Tribute: tailored clothing pioneer peter silverstone

by Arnold Brant Silverstone
Arnold Brant Silverstone (L) with Peter Robert Silverstone (R)

On Sunday, September 6, 2020, I lost my hero: my father, Peter Robert Silverstone.

Unlike any other man I’ve met, he did everything well. Some people excel in business, some in sports; some are good humanitarians, some great family men, some strong community leaders… But my father did it all so well, with humility, class, generosity, intelligence, and kindness, never asking for anything in return. 

I learned from him at an early age to treat people with respect, no matter their background or profession. I learned from him to work hard, with passion, energy, integrity, and commitment. I learned from him to give back. I learned from him to listen. I learned from him to always put family first. His 57-year marriage to my mom was a love story. So much so that it fueled in their children and grandchildren more love, confidence, and trust.

Peter was born in 1938 in Toronto Canada, the middle child of three boys. In his youth, he was very into sports, especially hockey which he played in the Junior League just below the Montréal Canadiens. He’d joke that at the time, he lived more in skates than in shoes. He was so good that he sometimes needed police protection because the French boys wanted to beat him up after games. He also won awards in water skiing and baseball. In later years he played tennis, winning a tournament just this past winter at age 81.  

Peter’s business life was even more remarkable. Taking over his father‘s small clothing company when his father passed at a young age, he built it into a state of the art leader in its field. A visionary, he was the first to embrace European technology, hiring GFT (a major fashion manufacturer with brands including Armani, Valentino, Joseph Abboud) in the 1970s to help him build his new factory in Montreal. This new technology cut labor time by 30 to 40 percent while making clothes that were lighter and more stylish in the Italian way. He also worked with the industry to advance new rates and to encourage the unions to accept and work with modernized factories, ultimately giving Canadian factories the edge over U.S. factories in the ‘80s. He was the first to feature European brands, signing licensing arrangements with Karl Lagerfeld and many others.

My proudest moments were joining my dad in the ‘80s after college and working alongside him. Unlike some of my friends in the industry who had difficult relationships with their fathers in business, my dad was a teacher, mentor, and friend, patiently teaching and watching me grow into my own person. If he saw me making a mistake that could cost him money, he’d warn me but would allow me to make my mistake so I’d learn from experience. Even when I started my own business (Arnold Brant), my father stood beside me, guiding me always. Later in life, as I got involved in real estate and securities, it was always my dad who I turned to. He inspired me every day.

Besides being a wonderful father and husband, Peter was a generous humanitarian, giving back to society and to his fellow man both his money (he donated millions over the years) and his time.

But the most beautiful part of him was the bond he had with my mom for more than 57 years, the love and partnership they shared, planning, and strategizing every move together. From family to business to their personal lives to their charitable work, they were inseparable, as they were with their children. They loved us unconditionally, traveling with us around the world, giving us every opportunity to understand and experience life.

My father was my hero but I’ve learned this past week that he was also a hero to many others.  How gratifying to receive letters from so many of his former employees, from university leaders, from professional colleagues, from people he played sports with, from random people who felt his kindness and generosity every day.

So, I miss my father, my best friend, my hero. May he rest in peace.

16 Replies to “TRIBUTE: TAILORED CLOTHING PIONEER PETER SILVERSTONE”

    1. Arnie,
      My deepest condolences to you and your family. Cherish the memories and keep your father close. I always enjoyed the trips to Montreal during the Britches days. Your father was always supportive and a pleasure to do business with.

    2. Arnie- I am so very sorry for your loss. Your father was a visionary, a great leader and built a factory with the best product I was ever associated with. I remember the first time I was in the factory and tried on a SFI jacket. It fit like nothing else I ever wore. To simply put it, spectacular. I always had the highest respect and regard for your dad. He was a wonderful man. My deepest condolences to you and your family.

  1. A beautiful tribute by one good guy about another. Very sad about your loss but happy you got to share so many good times with your Dad. I remember talking with him at events and seeing how proud he was of your accomplishments.

  2. Arnie, I can only imagine how proud of you your dad was, following his footsteps so successfully in the clothing business, giving back to good causes, treating all people with dignity and respect. These are lessons that can’t be taught, they must be lived. How fortunate you both were to have lived them together as father and son! 🙏💙🙏

  3. My condolences to you and your family Arnie. Having the good fortune to have met your father one day at Saks flagship, I was struck by his kindness and his pride in you. He was a good man.

    1. Sending my deepest condolences to the entire Silverstone family.
      Peter was a wonderful man ‘

      Kelly Arkalis

  4. Arnie, I remember meeting your father and mother at the Hickey Freeman showroom a few short years ago. Meeting them both, albeit briefly, made such a positive impact on me, they made a beautiful couple. It was a pleasure to see you transform from ‘fearless leader’ to doting son when your father was around. Thank you for sharing these sweet memories of him. My condolences to you, your sweet mother and the rest of your family.

  5. Arnie, so sorry for your loss. i recall the two of you visiting our shop as we were launching this great new brand. So glad he was an inspiration to you and i know you did him proud.
    Bruce Liles

  6. Very sorry for your loss Arnie. I worked with my father in the clothing business for many years and lost him at the end of 2018. I think about him every day, as you will your father. Your respect for him and the lessons he taught you will continue to grow as more time passes without him. This is a very nice tribute you have written. I’m sure he’s smiling down on you for it.

    1. Sending my deepest condolences to the entire Silverstone family.
      Peter was a wonderful man !

      Kelly Arkalis

  7. this is a beautifully written article. you can really feel the love and positive impact he had on you and others.

  8. The article captures it all. Peter was a great man and thought very highly of you Arnie. He always spoke proudly of your accomplishments. My condolences to the entire Silverstone family especially his much loved wife Dena.

  9. Arnold, my deepest condolences and prayers for your family. Your father was truly a special human being and we all had a tremendous amount to learn from him. Aside from his human gifts of graciousness, courtesy and respect he showed everyone, his business acumen was unparalleled. I have never met a person so passionate about fit, execution, and quality of the garment. I remember as a young executive at YSL Bidemann, the moment I arrived in the factory at Montreal, he would scurry me up to the warehouse to show me the latest garments that came off the line. He would quickly try on the garment like an excited kid and say- Rodney “Look at that shoulder” See under the armhole how the chest is clean and takes the shape of the chest. I had to reshape the armhole. Look at the suppression!” He was so passionate and proud of the hard work he put in on the line and the work getting the right equipment so that the garment looked better than the Europeans. He would often tell me that he would visit the Hugo Boss factory to see the latest techniques in achieving a consistently high quality garment. His passion for the garment showed and undoubtedly led to his success in the market. The Men’s industry has lost a great man and the I hope as an industry we can continue his passion for the garment today.

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