“Some of us spend a lifetime trying to figure out what we’re going to be when we grow up,” said Bergdorf Goodman Senior Vice President Linda Fargo as she took the stage at the UJA-Federation Fashion Division awards luncheon Thursday in New York. “Then there are the rare few of us who are born seemingly prepared from Day One for the rest of their lives.”
[Coach CEO] Joshua Schulman, she said, is one of those people.
“Retail and the sum of its many moving parts are all equally Josh’s obsessions and always have been. In truth, he’s kind of the ‘Rain Man of retail,’ ” said Fargo, who was on hand to present an award to Schulman for his career accomplishments.
To support her claim, Fargo offered a series of letters and drawings from Schulman’s childhood revealing his lifelong passion for retail. Among the relics was a pair of letters the fashion exec wrote at 13 to James Nordstrom requesting a meeting to discuss the company’s future plans.
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Fargo also shared how, in the second grade, Schulman cold-called retail developers pretending to be a secretary in his father’s office and asking to see floor plans for malls under construction. He was so persuasive that at one point three sheiks showed up at his father’s office looking to arrange a meeting.
What’s more, his family’s vacations weren’t to Disneyland, but to the country’s biggest malls. “To this day, Josh has a savant’s total recall of pretty much every floor plan, brand matrix and adjacency of every obscure store past and present in the U.S. and probably Europe,” Fargo said.
For his part, Schulman recalled that some of his best training for the fashion business came from his mother: “She always made sure I had a kippah [skullcap] to match every outfit,” he said.
Other honorees at the event included Joyce Green, general manager of fashion at Chanel, and Caleres execs Sam and Libby Edelman, the forces behind the Sam Edelman lifestyle brand.
Sam Edelman noted that he and his wife have spent 40 years in the fashion and footwear industry, but they have no intention of slowing down. “We are as dedicated as ever, and Caleres has given us the opportunity to grow the Sam Edelman brand, think about our collective future and support the brand’s effort to mentor the next generation of industry leaders and future philanthropists,” he said.
Libby Edelman emphasized the value of giving back to the community, particularly through organizations like God’s Love We Deliver, Ability Beyond and UJA, a Jewish outreach organization that helps aid people in need throughout the world. “We’ve been blessed with opportunities that have opened our eyes, our minds and our hearts,” said Edelman of her company’s philanthropic efforts.
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