by Karen Alberg Grossman

A note from the family of Raffi Shaya

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Raffi Shaya, CEO and Head Designer of Raffi, on Wednesday, June 14, 2023. The entire Raffi family mourns this loss. Raffi was a larger-than-life figure who brought his remarkable passion, talent, positive energy, and influence to the fashion industry. He will be deeply missed by all.
While we can never replace Raffi’s brilliance or leadership, Arlette and her three daughters — Limor, Shirley, and Kareen — will honor him by carrying on his vision and legacy. Raffi would want us all to celebrate life and spend time with friends and family. We hope you will all do exactly that, in his memory.
Raffi Forever!
With love,
Arlette, Limor, Shirley & Kareen

And from all of us at MR:

There was only one Raffi Shaya, the heart and soul of our menswear community. When 9/11 shocked our city and shook our entire country, Raffi was the first to publicly assure us that we would be okay. Born in Israel, Raffi innately understood the concept of L’Chayim — Life will be filled with ups and downs, challenges and opportunities. Our job is to celebrate the good times, help each other through the tragedies, and never miss an opportunity to make someone smile.

Karen and Raffi

When we last interviewed Raffi toward the end of the pandemic, he was his usual optimistic self. “In many ways, the pandemic was a wake-up call, not just a reminder to celebrate life but also a cry for new fashion options: new yarns, new models, new colors. You know, fashion is hardly a frivolous pursuit: the way you look very much affects the way you feel. If you’re not happy with the person you see in the mirror, then it’s hard to be happy with anything else. So, I advise people: always show your best self. When I can get a guy into quality fashion items in current models and fresh colors, I often see a total change in his personality. And seeing this type of transformation is what drives me to keep creating.”

Raffi and Arlette Shaya.

Here, a few comments from retailers who knew and loved this amazing man.

“I will always remember Raffi’s warm friendly smile… somehow reflected and woven into his cashmere sweaters! For sure, Mitchell stores have lost a warm, wonderful friend who helped make our sportswear merchandise sing and saleable!” —Jack Mitchell, Mitchell Stores 

“Raffi was the most optimistic, positive person. To all of us at Harry Rosen, he was much more than a supplier: he was a creative partner, always trying to find innovative product solutions for his clients. We will miss him.” — Larry Rosen, Harry Rosen Inc.

“I was shocked and saddened by the news of Raffi’s passing as we always had such wonderful conversations when he’d call to discuss an idea he had. At the Mitchell’s Forum dinner last year, I had the pleasure of sharing the evening seated next to the man. Always the consummate gentleman.” —Wally Naymon, Kilgore Trout, Cleveland 

“Our industry has certainly lost one of its most treasured icons. Raffi was his own best billboard for his designs, and he wore them well. What sticks with me most is our many chats that centered on life, health and family. He adored his wife and daughters, and my heart goes out to them. Raffi was also a positive influence and mentor to so many retailers over the years. I’m forever grateful for his friendship and will really miss him.” —Patrick Mon Pere, Patrick James 

“I was shocked and deeply saddened to hear about Raffi’s passing: we have all lost a great one. I could go on and on about this amazing man, but in just a few words: Raffi was, quite simply, THE BEST! The best father, the best husband, the best family man, the best friend, the best businessman, the best role model. He had the best values and the best outlook on life. He was the best person one could hope to know.

“I loved him and will always cherish the good fortune my family and I experienced to have had him in our lives.” —Kent Gushner, Boyds Philadelphia

“I met Raffi when he had his first office at 39 W. 55th Street and we were at 40 West, right across the street. Raffi was a prince among men: I loved sitting with him and watching the creativity emerge. He was a truly good person and amazingly enough, his whole family seems blessed with a similar sense of purpose, and sense of style. I have no doubt that his girls will carry on his legacy: they are talented designers and wonderful people.” —Fred Derring, DLS Apparel

“Raffi was the best of the best. He worked so hard. He loved this business. He loved his family more. We spent some personal time together over the years: he loved his golf and played even harder than he worked. I loved that guy and will truly miss him.” —Jeff Farbstein, menswear specialist

“Raffi was one the best in our industry. He was passionate about people, product, friendship and family. I will miss my friend!” —Bob Mitchell, Mitchells | Richards | Wilkes Bashford | Marios


  1. Raffi was an extremely talented merchant and will be missed dearly.
    I personally want to send my deepest condolences and prayers to his entire family.
    His memories will last forever.

    1. I’m so saddened to hear about this. I knew Raffi from the day he started. Haven’t seen him in years however he was so beloved and respected by everyone he met. May his memory be a blessing.

    2. Family Man 👨 he showed this publicly each trade show for many generations.
      RIP May your family find Devine Peace going forward each day.

  2. Rest in Peace Raffi.. You may be gone, but you’ll never be forgotten my Brother….🙏🥰

    1. To the entire Shaya family and friends. My deepest sympathies about Raffi. He was just the best person , merchandiser , gentleman and friend . He was one of the first vendors in the industry I met and always made sure I saw him at a minimal every trade show He will be deeply missed. A sad goodby to one of the industries finest 🙏

  3. I’m so shocked hearing this terrible news. Not only has the industry lost an icon but one of the best freind, and leader in the industry you can have. He will be remembered for all the greatness he did My deepest condolences to the family and company

    1. I may have been one of Raffi’s first sales reps maybe in the 80s when he designed a beautiful line of beachwear, just perfect for selling in New England in the winter! I should have stuck around until he got into sweaters! Raffi (and Arlette) were and are the warmest and most sincere people I ever associated with and met. All sales reps can appreciate this. I just saw the MR online that I get daily and read on my lanai in Florida. I was stunned and saddened. I guess many of us are used to this at our age. My deepest sympathy to Arlette. I did not know his daughters as they may not have been born when I represented Raffi. May his memory be a blessing.
      David Katz

  4. I first met Raffi and Arlette when they were showing their first(or close to it) season at the smallest room available in The Plaza Hotel many years ago when the NY men’s show used to be there. I bought his famous “Cotton Cashmere” which even now feels great and was a huge innovation. Over the years, he grew his business into the iteration we all have seen and experienced, all the while re-inventing the fashion wheel to point in the direction of great design and fashion without the price tag of his competitors. He was a true creator, designer, and visionary who also managed to raise a wonderful family, and to be a terrific person.
    His body has left the building, but his spirit and influence will always be with us !

    Rich Brady

  5. Raffi was a true legend when going to
    The shows in Newyork he always had the brightest booth his taste level was iconic he will be missed by all

  6. I met Raffi and Arlette at the MAMSB show in the late 70’s when he was just getting into business with mostly polos. His enthusiasm, happy face and everlasting smile kept him successful in his field of fashion and one of the greatest survivors for nearly 50 years in our “easy entry, fast exit industry”. For all the years I knew him, he never hesitated to explore the possibilities. Being a savvy businessman, surely before he left us, he negotiated a great “deal” with god for a view penthouse in heaven and will be looking down to earth from time to time,
    always with a smile. He will be missed and remembered.
    Sharam Sharei

    1. There was only one Raffi. He is one of the last of the iconic figures in our industry who were larger than life in so many positive and constructive ways. Always optimistic, creative and brilliant, he spotted the trends, made the trends and understood how to convey his excitement about them to his customers. The ultimate businessman, salesman, family man and just a good, good man. I’m so sad to hear this news. To the family, I hope all the wonderful memories will give you some comfort at this very difficult time.

  7. A shock and a great loss… A real professional and a good man..I will miss him.

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