Eugene Kule, known as the "King of Pants," died Sunday at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Miami Beach, Fla. He was 84.
The cause of death was kidney failure, according to his wife, Arlene.Born and raised in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, N.Y., Kule served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War and later graduated from City College in New York.Kule was known as an innovator in the clothing business and developed a reputation as a visionary. He was frequently called the King of Pants, and was the founder and owner of Happy Legs, which developed a following for its trend-setting pants. He brought bell-bottoms to the U.S. He also came up with the slogan, “What to wear on Sunday when you won’t be home until Monday.”Kule eventually sold the business to Spencer Shoe Co., and then founded Silk Club, which introduced washable silk to the market. He was an early pioneer in the private label business. His accounts included Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Coldwater Creek, according to Arlene Kule, who served as a designer at both Happy Legs and Silk Club.“He was the love of my life,” said Arlene Kule. “We were married 56 years and worked together 56 years, and it wasn’t enough for me.” She said her husband was a great salesman but also creative. “He spotted a trend and that became what was going on."She recalled a trip to London where he saw a belt and came back and created a belted pant that became a “million-dollar seller.”Kule forged many relationships within the industry.Tommy Hilfiger recalled Monday that he used to buy clothes from Kule for his store, People's Place. “My partner Larry Stemerman and I bought Happy Legs from Gene Kule in the Seventies. He was the fast-fashion king of the time. He offered every new shape, style and fabric before anyone else. He was a pioneer and a great guy,” Hilfiger said.“He was larger than life,” added Millard "Mickey" Drexler, chairman and chief executive officer of J. Crew Group. “He was a very charismatic guy, and a great merchant, great marketer and a great salesman. He was a pant man.”Drexler said he used to buy from him many years ago. “Happy Legs was very aptly named. Gene knew everything there was to know about making, marketing and selling pants. You’d walk into his showroom and he was an exciting guy and larger than life. There aren’t many Gene Kules left today.”Michael Kors, a friend of Kule's said, "Gene lived a life full of joy and curiosity. He and his wife, Arlene, spent a lifetime in the fashion industry, always excited by new ideas, traveling the world, and at the same time, he was an incredible father, grandfather and loyal friend to all who knew him."The Kules lived in New York most of their lives and retired to Miami Beach about eight years ago. At one point, they owned a 24,000-square-foot Tuscan-style mansion in Riverdale, N.Y., for nine years, which was embroiled in litigation. The home, which previously housed a corporation, was eventually sold to a religious school that housed 100 students. The home had 14 bedrooms and a theater that seated 200 people. “It was ridiculous. He [Eugene] felt I was insane. He never liked it. I made a mistake,” said Arlene Kule.In addition to his wife, Kule is survived by three daughters, Jodi, Farah and Nikki, five grandchildren, and his brother David. Nikki Kule owns a fashion company called Kule that focuses on striped tops.A memorial service will be held Feb. 26 at 2 p.m. at Riverside Memorial Chapel.
EXCLUSIVE: Two and half months after John Targon, cofounder and codesigner of Baja East, was hired as creative director of the contemporary division at Marc Jacobs, he has left the company, WWD has learned. Marc Jacobs International, which is owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, confirmed Targon’s departure in a statement: “John Targon is a talented designer and we appreciate the work he has done here. Ultimately working together did not make sense for the brand and we wish him the best.” Read the story by @jessiredale, link in bio. #wwdnews
@theluxurycollection is officially launching a collection, tapping Sofia Sanchez de Betak for the capsule. Over 30 styles will be featured in the Chufy x The Luxury Collection, debuting next month at Bergdorf Goodman, The Webster, FiveStory and more. De Betak, known as “@chufy,” drew inspiration for the collection from her trips to Japan in the past year #wwdfashion
@lhd, founder and CEO of @thewebster, has teamed up with @lebonmarcherivegauche for the European launch of her ready-to-wear line, LHD. The launch will come with an exclusive pop-up opening today that’s set to run through May 20. Located on the second floor, it carries her debut Miami-themed resort collection, launched in November as see-now-buy-now. #wwdfashion
@longchamp, which marks its 70th anniversary this year, just opened its biggest U.S. store on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. On the lower level there’s a floor-to-ceiling display of the brand’s iconic Le Pliage bag – in all of its different colors, shapes and sizes. Customers can also have their product personalized in-store by imprinting names, initials or emblems. #wwdfashion (📷: @ericmtownsend)
“Whenever I’m in that place of sound and music, I don’t have fear or nervousness…This album has a lot of themes of courage and boldness and I want to be the soundtrack for people’s lives. I’ll be so happy if [my songs] evoke strength in people, which I know music has done for me,” says @kimbramusic of her newest album “Primal Heart.” The New Zealand-born singer sat down with WWD to talk about her music, newest tour and connecting with hear fans — read more on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
Luxury handbag resale company @rebagofficial is planning to sell a rare collectible for $70,000: the @hermes White Crocodile Himalayan Birkin. The exclusive Birkin sold for about $100,000 in 2008, when @davidbeckham bought one for his wife @victoriabeckham to add to her collection. Read more about the rare Birkin on WWD.com #wwdaccessories
With her costume pearl necklace and what-you-see-is-what-you-get style, Barbara Bush, who died Tuesday at age 92, was a straight-shooter from start to finish.
Born Barbara Pierce in New York City, Bush served as the 37th first lady, as well as the country’s second lady from 1981 to 1989. In addition to being part of the longest presidential marriage — 73 years — Bush also had the unlikely distinction of having one son, George W., become the 43rd president and another son, Jeb, run unsuccessfully in 2016. Having served as second lady during the Reagan administration’s two terms and lived all over the world during her own husband’s ascending political career, Barbara Bush made it clear that literacy — not fashion — was her priority. Read more from Rosemary Feitelberg’s obituary on the late First Lady in WWD.com, link in bio. #barbarabush #wwdnews
Western and ’90s trends have influenced denim for fall 2018. Think raw, dark and coated jeans mixed with bold prints and tough leather. #trendtuesdays #wwdfashion (Styled by @thealexbadia;📷: @ryanplett)