Peter Strom, the previous vice chairman of Ralph Lauren who was thought of the designer’s “alter ego,” died Jan. 8 on the age of 91.
Strom was instrumental in creating Lauren’s enterprise from a males’s necktie idea to a full way of life assortment. Born in Passaic, N.J., Strom entered the lads’s put on business after graduating from school and serving within the U.S. Military. Strom, whose given identify was Peter Goldstein, used his mom’s maiden identify in enterprise.
Strom was a vp at Norman Hilton Clothes, the lads’s put on producer, once they began making the Polo Ralph Lauren males’s fits. Norman Hilton had been an unique investor in Lauren’s firm. As soon as the designer paid off Hilton’s unique mortgage, Lauren requested Strom if he needed to hitch him at Polo and he turned a enterprise associate, proudly owning 10 p.c, in 1974.
In 1978, Strom was named president and chief working officer of Polo Ralph Lauren, assuming Lauren’s working tasks, and was elevated to vice chairman in 1991. Strom developed the licensing template that allowed the Lauren enterprise to develop, putting offers for such classes as ladies’s attire, Chaps, footwear, the house, and males’s specialty shops, which operated as licensees.
Strom retired from Lauren in 1994 on the age of 65 and have become a senior adviser to the corporate. He diminished his possession from 10 to 7 p.c throughout Polo’s refinancing cope with Goldman Sachs in August 1994.
Identified for his humorousness, humility and heat, Strom was additionally an excellent collaborator with Lauren and supplied the enterprise construction for the corporate to develop.
“We have been finest associates,” stated Ralph Lauren on Tuesday. “Peter Strom was all the time there for me — as a good friend and a enterprise associate for over 20 years. He favored to say his position was ‘to do all of the issues I didn’t wish to do,’ however he was proper there supporting all these issues — ‘the magic,’ he referred to as it, and helped make it occur.
“Throughout lately once we speak concerning the significance of decency, integrity and character, I consider Peter. He had all these qualities, together with an excellent humorousness and humility.”
In an interview in 1994, when Strom retired, Lauren advised WWD, “Peter Strom has been my associate, alter ego and expensive good friend for over 20 years and his contribution to the success of this firm can’t be overstated.”
John Idol, chairman and chief govt officer of Capri Holdings Ltd., who earlier had been Ralph Lauren’s group president and chief working officer of product licensing, residence assortment and males’s assortment, stated, “Peter was essentially the most influential individual in my enterprise profession. He taught me tips on how to place the Ralph Lauren model on the highest requirements, and to by no means compromise on high quality. His compassion and dedication additionally taught me the worth of creating the folks in your group, who’re the driving pressure behind any firm. He was a visionary chief and set the stage for a way a worldwide style luxurious model must be constructed. I’ll miss him dearly.”
Cheryl Sterling, who held quite a lot of roles at Ralph Lauren resulting in president and chief working officer of Ralph Lauren Womenswear, labored with Strom for greater than 20 years. She recalled Tuesday how Strom employed her when she was the boys’ purchaser at Bloomingdale’s and had constructed a big store at 59th Avenue for the Ralph Lauren boys’ line. They acquired right into a disagreement as a result of Bloomingdale’s was working an advert and there was no merchandise within the store, and Saks Fifth Avenue’s boys’ store was stuffed with Lauren merchandise. She stored following up with Strom, and the following time he noticed her, he supplied her a job.
She stated she went forwards and backwards between Strom and Marvin Traub, former CEO of Bloomingdale’s, and figured she’d attempt it out for a 12 months and requested Traub if she might come again if it didn’t work out. After she re-signed and signed the papers, she went to satisfy Strom for lunch and he advised her two issues: “‘One, I curse loads, and two, I’ve by no means had a girl [on my staff] who’s ever been profitable.’
“Peter was my mentor. He was powerful and a beautiful complement to Ralph. They have been an excellent group collectively, and he was crucial in constructing the early years of Ralph Lauren,” stated Sterling. One factor that stood out about him was anytime he’d meet somebody, he’d all the time bear in mind their identify. “And God forbid if you happen to have been late for a gathering with him,” stated Sterling.
Buffy Birrittella, govt vp, senior adviser to Ralph Lauren, and senior artistic director of Ralph Lauren Womenswear, labored carefully with Strom. “He was a really robust associate in serving to me increase and implement Ralph’s imaginative and prescient by way of our licensed companions. He was a really particular man. We had terrific occasions collectively, and he was a warrior. He did it with such kindness and humor.”
Robert Burke, who has an eponymous consulting agency, labored at Lauren in numerous managerial roles when the enterprise was significantly smaller.
“Peter all the time represented an excellent chief and he was a mentor to many individuals within the group. Individuals regarded as much as him tremendously due to his enterprise acumen and his intelligence. What stood out was his unbelievable understanding of the style business and the significance of the artistic course of. He was Ralph’s greatest advocate and supporter in serving to the corporate fulfill its goals again then. Even when among the goals have been so massive, Peter understood the job to make them occur.”
For years, business observers have stated that designers want somebody like a Peter Strom to show their goals right into a actuality.
“He was a unique kind of CEO that sadly we don’t see typically immediately,” stated Burke. “He was the sort of man who remembers everybody, he was heat and personable and understood the significance of asking questions and listening.”
Stuart Kreisler, an business advisor who was beforehand president and proprietor of Ralph Lauren Womenswear, stated, “Peter was an excellent associate. He’s somebody I loved working with immensely. He was a grasp in males’s put on, and I had full appreciation for his capacity and data. He was an excellent associate for Ralph and he was an excellent associate for me as a result of he was males’s put on and I used to be ladies’s put on,” he stated.
Arnold Cohen, who was Ralph Lauren’s accountant, recalled Strom’s collaborative nature. “He was capable of work properly with Ralph when it comes to advisory and sensitivity. He helped him at a crucial time  when the corporate was turning itself round.” Cohen recalled how Strom was head of manufacturing for Norman Hilton earlier than he joined Lauren as a associate. Hilton had a $50,000 funding in Ralph Lauren and owned 50 p.c of the corporate, and later bought his stake again to Lauren, stated Cohen.
Cohen stated Strom and Lauren had a beautiful partnership. “He [Strom] took adversity with a grain of salt, and he was the sort of individual you went to for sage recommendation,” stated Cohen.
Jeffrey Banks, who was an assistant designer at Ralph Lauren, stated he acquired to know Strom though their tenures didn’t overlap. “I knew him very properly and adored him. He had the best humorousness. Somebody advised him I did an excellent imitation of Ralph, and he stated, ‘you bought to do it for me.’ Each time I noticed him on Fifth Avenue or at Saks Fifth Avenue, he’d say, ‘Do Ralph.’”
Marty Employees, who led males’s gross sales at Ralph Lauren and immediately is president of Siskind Group, stated, “Peter was my first massive boss and actual mentor. We labored collectively from 1980 to 1988, and it was intense. We met each morning at 7:30 a.m. and labored till 8 or 9 p.m. We’d all the time find yourself on the similar bar and with the identical drink. [Italian Pavilion, which is now Michael’s.] “We have been as shut as could possibly be. However then Peter needed to decide, me or Edwin Lewis, and Peter selected Edwin,” and Employees went to run Calvin Klein males’s. “He was an unbelievably magnanimous man who demanded an excessive amount of loyalty in return,” stated Employees.
In a WWD interview in 2002 after Strom had retired, he spoke about Lauren’s success.
“It’s completely nice and miraculous. It’s uncommon for a designer model within the style enterprise to stay that robust. It’s a really fickle enterprise, and for what Ralph is doing there, it’s simply nice,” stated Strom. He recalled that Lauren’s choice to enter ladies’s put on was an important step in his improvement. “That’s the place you get much more style publicity. However there have been different necessary issues — his place internationally and by working for a very long time to ascertain that cachet,” stated Strom.
Strom spent his summers in Truro, Cape Cod, Mass., and was an avid fisherman. He’s survived by his spouse, Helen Goldstein; his youngsters, Tom and his spouse, Andrea, and Susan and her associate, Jeremy Scott, in addition to 4 grandchildren. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the MSK Ralph Lauren Most cancers Basis.