Paul Cohen
by Karen Alberg Grossman
Paul Cohen
Paul Cohen

MR magazine is deeply saddened to report the sudden passing of West Palm Beach, Florida neckwear maven Paul Cohen on November 22 after a heart attack. He was 66.

Everyone in the neckwear industry knew and loved Paul Cohen who, with Paul Weiss (both former tie buyers at Macy’s), founded the highly successful neckwear firm Mallory & Church in 1987. Says Weiss, “It is undeniable that Paul Cohen’s keen business intuition, department store savvy, and eagerness to engage in new opportunities were instrumental to the success of Mallory & Church, a major department store resource for nearly two decades. Our mission for the company was always ‘volume with dignity’ and Paul was incredibly proud of the great team of talented people that came together not only to build a successful business but also to respect each other as family. Those were great years and Paul will be greatly missed.”

Notes Irwin Sternberg, the man behind the Jerry Garcia label, “I was always proud of the friendly competition among neckwear vendors: good competitors make you stronger. My friend Paul Cohen led the way within our industry for many of us to set higher standards that helped us reach higher goals. He was incredibly dedicated to the neckwear industry and worked hard to achieve greatness for his company. I will surely miss him.”

Scott Patti, who worked many years at Mallory & Church and considered Cohen his mentor, offers another perspective.  “I loved the guy: he was my mentor and the big brother I never had. He was a straight shooter: he said what he thought with no filter and wore his heart on his sleeve. Of course not having a filter can sometimes get one in trouble but with Paul, customers loved him. If he did something wrong, he apologized, made no excuses, and moved on. He was a really great guy.”

He shares another story about how Mallory & Church first acquired the Bill Blass license (which ultimately led to acquiring numerous other designer licenses including Nautica, Calvin Klein, Izod and Perry Ellis). “The company that previously held the Bill Blass tie license had gone bankrupt so we met with Larry Smith who then set us up to meet with Blass himself.  Paul seemed a little nervous as we were waiting in the lobby at 550 Seventh Ave but he pulled himself together. Blass finally appeared and asked Paul one question: ‘Are you rich?’ ‘Richer than the last guy who had the license,’ Paul quipped. Blass laughed heartily and that sealed the deal.”

Patti also remembers the day back in 1985 when a key Mallory & Church exec was getting married and the whole company was invited, perhaps celebrating a bit too much. “After a few drinks too many, I went back to my hotel and fell asleep, forgetting that my daughter was giving birth to her first child. The next morning, I woke up and rushed to the hospital, only to find Paul Cohen already there, happily holding the baby. He had gotten there an hour before me!”

Cohen is survived by his beloved wife Meri, two sons, Adam and Douglas, and his brother Stephen. His candor and kindness will be greatly missed by all who knew him.