NEW YORK — Jack “Chip” Rieger, a pioneer in the wholesale and licensing arena instrumental in making the Izod Lacoste brand among the first fashion status symbols, died March 12 at Saint Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center. Rieger, who was 83, died from complications of a massive stroke he suffered about 2 1/2 years ago.
This story first appeared in the March 19, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Born in Brooklyn and a captain in the Air Force during World War II, the outgoing Rieger spent most of his 40-year career with David Crystal, once a large manufacturer that owned Izod Lacoste. Rieger was president of Izod and, under his stewardship, the brand grew enormously. Rieger joined David Crystal in 1949, when the business had $25 million in sales, and left in 1979 when volume was $350 million and the firm was sold to General Mills.
“He was a very Damon Runyon-esque character, full of positives, very creative, with simply a great sales personality. He had a tremendous network of friends and associates,” said Arnold Aronson, managing director of retail strategies at Kurt Salmon Associates.
Designer Gloria Gelfand, Rieger’s friend for 45 years, said: “Chip was always there for all of his friends. He was caring.”
For his 80th birthday, his wife, Terre Simpson, who runs an executive search firm bearing her name, threw him a black-tie party aboard the Diplomat yacht. The party drew a crowd of 100, including Mohan Murjani, and Zachary Solomon, who said,. “He knew people in ladies’ wear, men’s wear, accessories, just about every sector of our industry, and he always wore a hat, so we called him Captain Jack.”
He was also sometimes called “The Maitre D’ of Seventh Avenue” because he habitually took snapshots of friends at events. “
After leaving David Crystal, Rieger became vice chairman of Charlotte Ford/Don Sophisticates. Later, he worked at the American Licensing Group, then formed a licensing business, creating among other licenses Guess Watches, Coca-Cola for Ladies, and Jones New York raincoats.
In addition to his wife, Rieger is survived by two daughters from a previous marriage, Lisa Claman and Caroline Rieger; his brother, Murray, and two grandchildren. A memorial service will be announced.