By Michael Duru
This past week I had the pleasure of joining legendary retailer Harry Rosen (pictured, left) on a walk through some of the major menswear retailers in NYC. I’ve enjoyed talking shop with Harry and listening to his great stories on many occasions over the past few years but had never done the “WALK,” as he puts it.
It’s amazing to me how few of us in the retail industry walk other stores to see what they’re doing on their sales floors and featuring in their displays. I’m just as guilty as anyone: for the past few years I’ve been so focused on my own business, on getting fashion direction from my vendors spoon fed to me, that I fear I’ve lost some of my edge.
Despite his age, Harry Rosen was not a bit fazed by our five-hour walk; in fact he seemed energized by it, ever anticipating what he might discover next. We walked through numerous stores (including Barneys, Saks, Canali, Bergdorf Goodman, Paul Stuart and a few others), and talked to many sales associates about their products, their ideas and their insights. I must admit it was a great experience for me: the perspective I got from these sellers on the front lines was priceless. I also noted some great mixing of dress-up with casual wear on some very innovative display fixtures, as well as a higher than expected penetration of private labels.
At a non-retail stop, I had the pleasure of introducing Harry to another legend in our business: Mickey Solomon of HMS International Fabrics (Solomon is at left; the author is second from right). The two had never met in all these years but when they started talking about fabrics, mills and trends, it was truly magical: the combined knowledge of over a century of experience, one at the fabric end and the other at retail, was extraordinary!
Perhaps the most enduring lesson of this experience for me is that I have still so much to learn. Clearly, there are many great ideas out there if you just open your eyes and look around. Last but not least is the most obvious message: the need to adapt to change. Those who do it well will hopefully stay around; I plan to be one of them.
Michael Duru owns Michael Duru Clothiers in Shrewsbury, N.J.