Reinvention gets personal

by Karen Alberg Grossman

Menswear execs reveal how they’re changing their businesses, and their lives, for 2019 and beyond.

Tom Kalenderian, Barneys

“2019 will bring more opportunities for us to modernize the business and focus on what’s important to the next generation of consumers. As a manager of an exciting team of young, bright stars of the future, I see this equally as a great time to get to know them better and understand what’s important to them and how I can best mentor them with positive and uplifting motivation.”

Kent Gushner, Boyds Philadelphia

“This question is coming to me one year too late as we’ve just finished reinventing the store in terms of construction, layout and merchandising. Therefore, I’d have to say that 2019 will be dedicated to ironing out the wrinkles of our new store and continuing to focus on modernizing, aligning both the culture and the organizational structure with our new vision. As for reinventing my life, fortunately I don’t need to: I’m happy with, and grateful for, the life I have.”

Lizette Chin, UBM Fashion

“For me it’s not about reinvention and more about evolving. Personally: I’m trying to live my life according to my favorite meditation app, CALM: ‘May you be happy; may you be healthy; may you be safe; may you be at peace.…’ Professionally: My goal is to bring a sense of community, fun and commerce back to our business. We need it!”

Tom Ott, Saks Off 5th

“I’m a runner and sometimes think there’s overlap between my 2019 goals for the Saks Off 5th business and my personal goals: to push forward and reach new milestones. It’s an exciting time for Saks Off 5th and the retail market as a whole: The challenge isn’t so much reinvention, but rather how we stay competitive with more fashion and trend coupled with exceptional value in key product categories. In 2019, Saks Off 5th will launch new designers and collaborations; I’m truly excited to run with them.”

Jeff Farbstein, Harry Rosen

“We’re getting really serious about the kind of internet experience we offer our customers on our site. We can’t invest much more in our stores because we’ve renovated them all already so all money is now going into our website. So, watch out! Our client engagement online will soon be comparable to in-store.… As for my personal mission: It’s to do more hanging out with young people. And to perhaps read a book from cover to cover, something I haven’t done in about 52 years.”

Dan Leppo, Bloomingdale’s

“Bloomingdale’s is constantly reinventing our business: Just when you think you know everything about us, we change the whole store! What I’m most excited about are some great new footwear brands like Golden Goose; our new ‘Wardrobe’ concept featuring product from K. Red, Moorer and Altea; as well as the exclusive launch of a private label sportswear brand. On a personal level, I’m reinventing myself as a 6-foot-tall 40 long. Maybe soft spoken and patient while I’m at it.…”

Arnold Silverstone, Samuelsohn/Hickey Freeman

“My focus has always been my career and family. In this next chapter, I want to give back to society in appreciation of all the blessings I’ve been given. I’ve recently gotten involved (both financially and timewise) with a few medical research projects that will hopefully have a meaningful impact on future lives. To witness what some of these scientists are doing is really incredible. I hope to find other ways to inspire, teach and give back in the coming years, all while continuing to search for that next hot item, special fabric or new menswear concept.”

Alex and Mike Faherty, Faherty Brand

“We’ve intensified our commitment to sustainability. Although few of the big brands are doing it and consumers don’t seem to care, it’s pretty obvious we have a problem on our planet with too much waste, so we’re hoping to at least start the conversation. We’ve hired a sustainability coordinator. We do composting here at the office. We don’t use plastic packaging or clips; there’s no plastic anywhere at company headquarters. All our labels and tags are made from renewable materials. It’s not a big deal but it’s something. And it just feels better.”

James Starke, JCPenney

In the year ahead, we look forward to reconnecting with our core customer, advancing our men’s partnerships, bolstering men’s athletic apparel, growing Big & Tall business, and driving spend and frequency of visits to stores and to JCPenney.com. As for me, I look forward to getting back to being just a “tall” customer – not “big and tall.”

Raffi Shaya, Raffi

“From a business perspective, we’re always reinventing: that’s our mantra. Since I’m now closer to 100 than to 50, I try to enjoy every day and spread positive energy to others. My holiday gift to MR readers is this tip: Every morning, take a very hot shower followed by two minutes of a very cold shower. It’s an electric shock, a wake-up call. The increased blood circulation will stimulate your brain and keep you young and happy forever. But, please consult your doctor first before trying my advice!!”

George and Oscar Feldenkreis, Perry Ellis International

George: “Having just taken our company private, we look forward to reinventing the business by investing for long-term growth. I also look forward to hiring a few talented top-level executives so I can spend more time writing my book and traveling.”

Oscar: “After 13 very stressful months, I look forward to watching ESPN without switching channels to check stock prices.”

Allison Basile, Age of Wisdom

“Working in fashion, we’re constantly challenged to reinvent ourselves. In 2019, I will let go of the fear of stepping outside the lines when it comes to design. I will let emotions dictate rationality when being creative. I will adapt to the motto of being ‘all in’ as I approach the backside of life. We’re in the digital age where time moves much faster. Ideas need to be expressed as they evolve with less worry about being perfect. This year, personally and professionally, will be all about taking risks and making bolder, more vulnerable statements.”

Richard Binder, Mavi/34 Heritage

“Reinvention is the perfect word for 2019. We’re rolling out a complete rebrand touching all aspects of 34 Heritage; even our showroom is getting a makeover. As for me, maybe I’ll actually get some more sleep?! #worklifebalance”

Jim Foley, Woodbury Mens Shop

“Travel is the key to reinvention. Getting out of the store allows me to experience new places and cross paths with new people. This inspires me to focus back on our product, our technology and our great team. Whether it’s a trip to San Francisco, Copenhagen, Fire Island or Venice, I’m energized when I get back home.”

Ken Giddon, Rothmans

“In terms of business reinvention, we’re giving more responsibility in 2019 to our female colleagues. They just do a better job! Personally, I’m going to switch to rooting for the Yankees; all this Red Sox winning is getting boring. #never”

Larry Stemerman, TailorByrd

“For TailorByrd, we’re staying bright and happy with new cheerful prints. We’re also expanding our international sales for 2019, which is my mission both personally and professionally.”

Gina Zangrillo, Darien Sport Shop

“Our mission is to surprise and delight our customers with a curated assortment of the latest trends and new brands.”

Erin Hawker, Agentry PR

“In 2019, I hope to find the time to take off my hat!”

Geoff Schneiderman, Eleventy

“I’m working hard at improving the connection between our brand and better independent stores. This starts with the fact that we don’t sell online in North America: our website asks customers for a zip code so we can direct them to the nearest specialty store. We never take this business for granted and truly appreciate every order.”

Scott Ruerup, Peter Millar

“We are fully immersed in leading our customers towards an ever-evolving sense of style by breaking down perennial ideas of apparel, reimagining their purpose and providing unique value to one’s lifestyle aspirations. As for reinventing my life? It seems my kids are doing that for me.”

Rick and Jim Penn, Puritan Cape Cod

“2019 marks our centennial year so we’re getting out of our comfort zone. Along with a new rebranding campaign and the completion of a three-year renovation of our Hyannis flagship store, we’re continually looking for new opportunities to stay relevant with our customers and deliver a memorable shopping experience.”

Bruce Pask, Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus

“For me, reinvention means continuing on a path that values expansive thinking and boundless curiosity, then following where that leads.”