MR is saddened to report the passing of Saul Korman, well-loved and highly respected founder of Korrys, most famous for his outgoing personality, his compassion, and those ground-breaking radio ads (on five stations!) that he broadcast spontaneously from wherever he went. Known as the Duke of the Danforth, his death was announced on Sunday night. He was 86.
From the anonymous quote on his Facebook page: “Legend, icon, mentor, hero. Thank you for everything. Thank you for helping shape Canadian men’s fashion through your passion, dedication, and most of all love for people. You are one of a kind, irreplaceable, and simply the best.”
An article in the Toronto Star quoted several dignitaries. “We will never again see the likes of Saul Korman, the Duke of the Danforth,” tweeted Toronto Mayor John Tory. “He was much more than the owner of a men’s clothing store, one I shopped in. He was the ambassador, the salesperson, the inspiration that helped make the whole of the Danforth what it is today: a destination. My condolences to his wonderful family and to all his many friends. We will miss him, and will miss hearing his voice on the radio.”
Says admirer/competitor Larry Rosen of Harry Rosen fame, “Saul Korman was definitely one of Canada’s most creative menswear retailers. Through his inventive use of advertising, he gave his store a unique personality that allowed him to build a very successful business in an unexpected location.”
Arnold Silverstone, former design director at Samuelsohn and Hickey Freeman, considered Korman a mentor. “Saul was a friend, a teacher, and a mensch,” he says. “I remember sitting in his office for hours as I was growing up in the industry, listening to his stories and advice. I learned a lot about marketing from Saul, who was self-taught but became a public figure and celebrity in Toronto from his radio ads and fashion columns in newspapers and magazines. On several occasions, he included me in his live radio broadcasts, handing me the microphone with no notice so I had to learn to improvise just like he did.”
Silverstone adds, “Some highlights from our friendship: dinners with him and his beloved wife Myrna at Spago’s in Vegas after the shows, industry dinners with all the Canadian retailers that I hosted (but Saul would become co-host). I will miss the laughs, the lessons, and his unique style. As we lose icons like Saul, Derrill Osborn, and my dad, we lose larger-than-life characters who not only shaped our menswear industry but also had a lasting impact on so many lives. I will miss you, Saul. Ask my dad to play tennis in heaven. And rest in peace.”
Peter Tsihlias of Dion Neckwear was a supplier and friend. “Saul Korman was a true entrepreneur, a legend, and a trailblazer in the menswear industry. Saul and my family would have breakfast every Saturday morning at our local bagel shop before we both headed into work. We’d always have in-depth conversations bright and early regarding politics, business, and family. I will miss his early morning phone calls. The industry knew how close we were and everyone would always ask me, “What is the latest news from Saul.”
Tsihlias adds, “Saul was our industry’s menswear ambassador and ‘The Duke of the Danforth.’ He had an extreme passion for menswear, creating ‘Back to Business Thursdays’ as a counterpart to Casual Fridays. Through his advertising and radio commercials, he built Greek Town as well as numerous events long like ‘Taste of the Danforth.’ He was loved and well respected in the industry, throughout the country, and especially in the City of Toronto. May his memory be eternal.”
Says Philippe Binda at Throat Threads, “Saul was one of my favorites! I first tried to sell him 20 years ago and he gave me a shot, placing an order for my shirts the first time we met. The industry has lost a leader and a friend. His passion for life will be missed everywhere but especially on the Danforth.”
Warwick Jones, president of Coppley and now Oxxford, was another supplier and good friend. “Coppley had always done a nice business with Korry’s but at one point years back, Saul stopped carrying the collection because I’d been pursuing him to pay an old invoice. I accepted this to a point but finally confronted him by saying ‘I’m going to be selling you again by year’s end. I never stopped pursuing him and on Christmas eve, he left me a message saying he’d just faxed me an order.”
“Saul was a great businessman and a wonderful friend,” Jones added. “We’d talk every few days and he never got off the phone without saying I love you. I don’t know too many men with the confidence to say that. Also, at every trade show, he was the first one at the door and the last one to leave. Few retailers worked as hard as Saul: even in recent years when he was less mobile, he’d ride around the shows on some rolling vehicle he’d borrowed from the hotel. He was never a good driver so trust me, this was dangerous! How I miss this amazing man!”
As editor of MR, I had the pleasure of visiting Saul at his store whenever I went to Toronto. We shared the tragic bond of having lost a child and Saul never stopped showing concern for how I was doing. I loved watching him on the selling floor and seeing how genuinely he cared for his customers (while selling them more than they ever intended to buy…) If I showed up in the middle of a live radio broadcast, he’d hand me the microphone, having no idea what I might say. Once he even announced to his listeners that the editor of MR was in town to interview Harry Rosen, the greatest menswear store in North America. A class act. A lovely and gracious man. A gifted storyteller, showman, and friend. How amazing that, coming from a small community in northern Quebec and with only a 10th-grade education, Saul taught so many people so much about life. RIP my fabulous friend.