by Brian Lipton

Photos by Leandro Justen

It was an amazing evening filled with love and laughter as top industry execs were honored at MR magazine’s 12th annual awards dinner at Spring Studios on Monday, July 17. Nearly 400 retailers and manufacturers showed up for the festivities, which was hosted by UBM managing director Mike Alic and MR magazine’s Stu Nifoussi and Karen Alberg Grossman.

The Sprezzatura Award was presented to Giorgio Canali, vice president of North America for Canali, by Bob Mitchell. He is not only responsible with building his family-owned Italian clothing  business into one of the powerhouse brands in the U.S. and Canada, but is both respected and loved by many in the industry for his charming personality, his humility, and his strong relationship with his retail partners.

Mario Bisio stepped up next to present AG Jeans with a special award as Denim Brand of the Decade, which was accepted by the company’s president and creative director Sam Ku. In addition to their spectacular success at retail (they are the number one denim brand in many luxury independents and department stores), the company is renowned for its huge, state-of-the-art production facility in California with a major focus on sustainability.

Isaia’s Jim Shay presented the Retail Vision Award to MartinPatrick3, the dynamic Twin Cities specialty store that has expanded four times since its opening in 2008. The store features an eclectic mix of goods and services ranging from elegant custom clothing to contemporary sportswear, cool accessories, home furnishings, apothecary, unusual gifts and even a wonderful barber shop with a robust following. While most retailers today struggle with the challenge of turning apparel shopping into an “experience,” MartinPatrick3’s owners, Dana Swindler and Greg Walsh, who accepted the award, have clearly figured it out.

Next up Brunello Cucinelli’s Massimo Caronna handed Jeff Farbstein, the highly respected but somewhat low-profile EVP of Canadian luxury retailer Harry Rosen, the Merchant’s Merchant Award. Known for his exceptional taste level, managing and mentoring skills, relationship-building talents, cautious risk-taking, and ability to maximize the talents of his team, Farbstein has been largely responsible for Harry Rosen’s impressive growth across Canada. Even more impressive is his willingness to share his knowledge and expertise with other retailers, including luxury merchants in the United States.

To end the evening on a high note, Macy’s CEO Jeff Gennette gave his longtime friend and mentor, Peerless Clothing’s Ronny Wurtzburger, the first-ever Master of Menswear Award. One of the industry’s greatest men (and funniest speakers), Wurtzburger has literally spent his entire life in the menswear business and, since 1989, has helped to build Peerless Clothing into North America’s largest tailored clothing company by acquiring licenses for about 20 hot brands including Calvin Klein, Lauren Ralph Lauren, Chaps, Tommy Hilfiger, Michael Kors, John Varvatos, Todd Snyder and Hart Schaffner Marx, as well as owning Tallia Orange and TalioRed. In addition to being our industry’s quintessential dealmaker and negotiator, he is known for his generosity, his willingness to help anyone in need, and his genuine relationships with everyone from top retail executives to athletes, celebrities and literally hundreds of big and small retailers and apparel executives.

Congrats to all the honorees and the wonderful companies that make up our menswear family.