RIP JOE CAMPO

by Karen Alberg Grossman

MR is saddened to report the death of Joe Campo, a beloved part of the menswear community for many decades. He was 81.

Born in Brooklyn and recently residing in Stuart Florida and New Windsor NY, Joe was an icon in the men’s clothing industry. After graduating from FIT, he started his professional career at Brooks Brothers, catering to celebrity customers who needed VIP attention. He then moved on to Paul Stuart, helping them to expand their luxury business to Japan. He later moved to Florida, becoming a regional buyer for Jordan Marsh, and one of the first U.S. merchants to take a chance on a young, unknown designer, Ralph Lauren. Later in his career, Joe worked for Pietrafesa Clothing as Vice President. Upon his retirement, he returned to his roots, servicing celebrity customers and training new recruits for Ralph Lauren in Short Hills, New Jersey.

Joe was an avid reader, a New York Yankee fan, a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. He was never seen without his signature Fedora or Panama hat, depending on the season. He cherished summers in Montauk with his family; his wife of 57 years Arline, his daughter Dina and son-in-law Jim, his four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren meant the world to him. He is also survived by many beloved siblings, nephews, nieces, friends and his treasured puppy Max.

Says menswear colleague and close friend Joe Barrato, “The reason you can keep a friend 62 years is because that person is someone truly special, a person of character and class. That was Joe. A prince of a man with great energy, love and passion for our industry. Because of this passion, his contribution to our industry was significant in every job he held and to all the folks he mentored. We both started our careers at Brooks Brothers where we were working with a young Ralph Lauren, and other legends from that store. Joe’s humility, kindness and care for his fellow workers and friends are character traits that are both rare and venerable.”

Says another good friend and colleague Bill Rheingold, “Joe had a fabulous fashion taste level. We met when he was a clothing buyer at Jordan Marsh in the 1960s. I was with a sportcoat firm at that time. He left Miami to become a partner at an upscale menswear store in Newburgh New York; he then became VP at Pietrafesa in Syracuse and was responsible for getting manufacturing rights to all of Ralph’s men’s tailored clothing. Years later, Joe joined Ralph Lauren as a mentor to their new sales teams. He introduced me to the company, where I became an executive seller in Manhasset for 15 years.

“Joe was eloquently knowledgeable. He travelled the world during his career. He was a true friend; our wives are close friends. I will greatly miss his wit and sincerity.”

For those so inclined, consider a contribution in Joe’s name to the Humane Society of Walden (waldenhumane.org).

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