A memorial service for Woody Hochswender, former fashion reporter for The New York Times, is planned for Jan. 17 at 1 p.m. at the Grove building on Lake Wononscopomuc in Lakeville, Conn.
Hochswender, 64, died Dec. 31 of a brain tumor at his home in Sharon, Conn.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and raised in Sea Cliff, L.I., Hochswender graduated from Colgate University. After college, he held a number of odd jobs, such as working at UPS, selling yo-yos on the steps of Lincoln Center, and running a bicycle rental concession in Central Park, according to his former wife, Cynthia Hochswender. He became a model for Kezia Keeble, a former Vogue editor and public relations executive, who pushed him to pursue his dream of being a professional writer and introduced him to Buddhism.
Hochswender worked for Avon Books, a division of the Hearst Corp., The Los Angeles Herald Examiner and Harper’s Bazaar before joining the Times as a fashion writer in 1988. He wrote the Patterns column about the fashion business until 1992, making it a must-read every Tuesday for its inside look at Seventh Avenue. He succeeded Michael Gross, who inaugurated Patterns in 1987, after Notes on Fashion, started by John Duka, ended. After Hochswender left, the Patterns column was penned by the late Amy Spindler, a former Fairchild staffer.
Hochwender became known for his sharp wit and keen observations of fashion. In a year-end Patterns column devoted to predictions, he wrote that in the future everyone would belong to tribes. “At the time, it seemed a bit mysterious, but in the years that followed, the marketplace did, indeed become tribal in so many ways,” wrote Claudia Payne, a former Times editor on a tribute wall to Hochswender.
Ed Filipowski, copresident and chief strategist at KCD Worldwide, said, “He was a good friend back at the time. His perspective was interesting because he was not necessarily an insider and looked at fashion in his own way. He was such an interesting, smart gentleman who lived up to his unique name. Tall and thin with that shock of red hair and that toothy grin. You could always see through his writing his mind working, his eyes darting and penetrating a subject at the same time, obviously a great listener with a quick but dry humor. Behind that there was a great childlike coy soul, and Kezia saw through him and helped him bring that out. He really had a nice light around him.”
Fern Mallis, an industry consultant, said she dealt with Hochswender when she was just starting at the Council of Fashion Designers of America, and he was at the Times. “I found him to be really smart and very fair, and he had his own take on everything. He had a sense of humor and was an excellent reporter. He was on the fashion beat [but] not long enough.”
After leaving the Times, Hochswender became an editor at Esquire magazine, later being tapped as editor in chief of Esquire Gentleman and writing a column for Harper’s Bazaar called Pins and Needles and articles for such publications as the Chicago Tribune and Sports Illustrated’s Golf Magazine. He was also the author of two books: “The Buddha in Your Mirror: Practical Buddhism and the Search for Self,” with Greg Martin and Ted Morino, and “The Buddha in Your Rearview Mirror: A Guide to Practicing Buddhism in Modern Life.”
Hochswender is survived by his daughter, Katharine; his sister, Pat Leri, and girlfriend Kirsten Jensen.
Memorial donations may be made to the Nichiren Buddhist organization, SGI-USA, the Salisbury Visiting Nurse Association and the Sharon Fire Department Ambulance Squad.