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Two chief execs in the global fashion industry chose Charleston as their home. Too young to retire, they are pursuing new projects and lending their experience and expertise to aspiring entrepreneurs
(from left to right)
Who: Retired chairman and CEO of Lacoste USA (2002-2009); chairman, president, and CEO of Stride Rite Corp. (1993-1998, brands include Sperry Topsider & Keds); president of Levi’s Menswear (1986-1993); president of Perry Ellis America
His Start: In 1964, Bob signed on with Levi Strauss & Co. In 1984, he was named president of Perry Ellis America, a licensing venture between Levi’s and the designer.
Big Wins: During his time at Levi’s, Bob created the Dockers brand, which achieved $1 billion in sales in five years; but he says his best win was during the Perry Ellis gig, when he met his wife, Karen, who was working with the designer.
Current Projects: Bob is actively engaged in mentoring and investing in new business ventures and helping young people find ways of achieving their ambitions. He also serves on the boards of Hampshire Group NY and Urban Electric Company.
Advice to Aspiring Designers: “Go with your heart and passion and don’t get discouraged by some setbacks, because those will occur. Learn to evolve in your skills, as fashion is constantly being influenced by social trends.”
Who: Founder and CEO (Curator of Exceptional Objects) of 79 Ashley, an emerging luxury lifestyle brand; president of Mitchell Gold+Bob Williams (2004-2011); president of Calvin Klein Black Label, White Label, and cK Collections (1999-2004); president of several Donna Karan Company divisions, including DKNY Men, DKNY Kids, and DKNY Jeans (1994-1998); president of Ellesse Italia North America division (1989-1993); and president and cofounder of Chaps by Ralph Lauren (1977-1988)
His Start: After college, George joined the training program at JW Robinson, an upscale department store in L.A. A year later, he took a job with C. F. Hathaway Company, a men’s and boy’s shirt manufacturer founded in 1837 in Maine. There, he learned every facet of the shirt business from the bottom up.
Current Projects: 79 Ashley, which will launch with a collection of vachetta leather accessories (79Ashley.com)
Advice to Aspiring Designers: “Have a clear vision of what you want to say and who your customer is and the discipline not to compromise your standards.”
Shot on location at Warehouse, 45 1/2 Spring Street; hair and makeup touch-ups by Deirdre Outlaw and Meghan Beeler