The Sage of Seventh Avenue

Fifty years in fashion have shaped Bud Konheim's opinions about the apparel business and beyond.

Fifty years in fashion have shaped Bud Konheim’s opinions about the apparel business and beyond.

Bud Konheim has been called prophetic, controversial, political and opinionated. He raised campaign funds for Rudolph Giuliani’s first mayoral run, has served on fashion industry advisory committees to City Hall and on the boards of many industry organizations. He even hosted Russian President Boris Yeltsin and then First Lady Hillary Clinton on tours of the Garment Center.

Never at a loss for words, Konheim shares his thoughts on some people, issues and organizations inside and outside fashion.

This story first appeared in the January 31, 2007 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

  • Domestic manufacturing vs. imports: “Domestic manufacturing is the classy, most efficient way to go, not the cheapest.”

  • Wal-Mart: “Big, but not necessarily better.”
  • Rudy Giuliani: “The first four years were dynamite and then he became the politician he hated.”
  • Mayor Michael Bloomberg: “A class act that seems to get better all the time. Different from Giuliani, he stays the same person.”
  • Macy’s: “A great experiment. They’ve got the right ideas and need to work on it for five years.”
  • Liz Claiborne Inc.: “The best run business in the entire Garment Center before Paul Charron, and it got better with him. I take my hat off to those people. They really understand running an ethical, outstanding business that makes money.”
  • Council of Fashion Designers of America: “It’s our club. Like Groucho Marx said, ‘Who’d want to belong to a club that would accept someone like me as a member?'”
  • Hip-Hop: “I don’t get it or understand it, but it’s current culture, so it’s OK. It’s like swing was to me.”
  • President Bush: “George Bush is a tragedy in the classic Greek definition — the very things that make the person great are the things that bring him down. He was straightforward, he was honest, he was clean. The problem with that is that those same attributes got him in trouble because he insisted on going in the same line and he didn’t listen to anybody. You’ve got to listen to people and see what’s going on — the idea that you might not be right.”

  • The next president: “Hillary Clinton has a really good chance of being the next president. Everybody talks about all her baggage and Barack Obama and the woman issue, but I know Hillary and she’s a winner. The thing that they criticized Bill Clinton of — not being a leader but testing the air and going in that direction — is not such a bad thing. If Bush had done that, the picture would be different today. Hillary has a track record, she has name recognition, she has money, she’s got a tremendous following and I think the [notion] of prejudice against women is just silly and old-fashioned.”