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The fashion division of the UJA-Federation of New York had a successful fund-raiser on Thursday, raising $1.7 million.
According to Financo’s Gilbert Harrison, who chairs the fashion group, “We had over 550 people at our annual luncheon. We’ve never done this well.”
Among those in attendance from the financing, fashion and real-estate sectors were Tommy Hilfiger, Michael Gould, Colin Welch, William Susman, Stephen I. Sadove, John Pomerantz, Steven Tanger, Yehuda Shmidman and Jill Granoff.
The honorees were Laurence C. Leeds Jr., chairman of Buckingham Capital Management, and David Simon, chairman and chief executive officer of Simon Property Group, while Stacy London, former cohost of TLC’s “What Not to Wear,” was the emcee. The keynote speaker was Ron Prosor, the Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations.
G-III Apparel Group Ltd. chairman, president and ceo Morris Goldfarb presented the award to Leeds. “I’ve known Larry for 20 years, and he’s taught me so much,” Goldfarb said. He also cited Leeds, when he was head of Manhattan Industries, before the takeover by Drexel Burnham Lambert in 1988, as the one who taught him about the “importance of brands.”
According to Goldfarb, “Larry is a social animal, but really in a good way. He knows everyone. If you need an introduction to anyone, he can make it happen.”
For Leeds, the award was both an honor and a trip down memory lane.
“There’s something scary about the concept of a lifetime award. What comes next?” Leeds asked.
Before he spoke about his tenure at Manhattan in 1955, a firm his great-grandfather started in 1857 that had roots in the men’s shirt industry, he reminisced briefly about how much life has changed over the years. “When I was a young boy, there was no television, no air-conditioning, no commercial air travel, no shopping malls and no computers,” he said.
“In 1955, a gallon of gas was 23 cents, and a basic white dress shirt at retail was between $2.65 to $2.95. Today that shirt is between $45 to $50. All apparel was made in the USA….No company in America had annual sales greater than $100 million. Cluett Peabody was only $70 million,” Leeds said.
When he joined Manhattan, it posted annual volume of $30 million. Leeds became ceo in 1974, and when he left in 1988, Manhattan had annual volume of $600 million.
“I spent 34 years at Manhattan,” Leeds said, noting that a whole team of friends and associates from his Manhattan days were in attendance at the luncheon and adding that he was “grateful for the lessons learned” at the firm.
Richard S. Sokolov, president and chief operating officer of Simon Property Group, presented the UJA award to David Simon.
Simon said in jest, “I don’t turn down leases, so if you have any complaints, go to Richard.”
He spoke about how the work of the UJA, through its affiliations and agencies, are able to provide aid to 4.5 million beneficiaries annually. Children, in particular, benefit the most, he said.
He also noted the work of Simon Youth Foundation, which was founded in 1998 by a group of Simon Property employees. The charity provides educational opportunities, career development and life skills for teens from different backgrounds who are at risk of dropping out of high school to stay in school, Simon said.