Freddie Stollmack, the cofounder and president of Weatherproof Garment Co., and a pervasive industry figure, will retire at the end of this month. He’ll remain as a consultant to the outerwear firm until the end of the year.
This story first appeared in the June 4, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Calling Stollmack “a personal mentor and friend over the years,” Eliot Peyser, cofounder and chief executive officer of Weatherproof, said: “We salute Freddie on a stellar career and miss his creative intensity, attention to detail and friendship already. Freddie’s legacy will no doubt continue to help our company as it enters its third decade. Freddie is leaving at a time when the brand has never been bigger or stronger.”
He said it would be “extremely difficult to replace” Stollmack, who has been with the company since 1991. “Working with Freddie, I must be the most educated apparel guy in the country,” he said. “I tell everyone I went to FSU — Freddie Stollmack University.”
Stollmack, 72, spent nearly his entire 50-year career in the apparel business, starting out as an assistant salesman at Campus Sportswear, where he spent more than 25 years. In 1991, he approached David Peyser Sportswear — Weatherproof’s parent company — about developing a line of moderately priced outerwear using cutting-edge fabrics. The association resulted in the company introducing a collection of lightweight microfiber jackets.
“No one was really doing microfiber for men at that level,” said Peyser. “That really helped us get our foot in the door.”
Since that time, Stollmack spearheaded the addition of men’s and women’s sportswear, a popular line of technical outerwear called 32 Degrees, and the addition of 15 licensees in categories ranging from footwear and cold-weather accessories to children’s apparel.
Stollmack is also credited with being the mastermind behind some creative, and sometimes controversial, publicity. Perhaps his most famous was when he placed a billboard in Times Square of President Barack Obama wearing a Weatherproof jacket. The White House forced Weatherproof to remove the ad, but the publicity was priceless.
Weatherproof has no plans to replace Stollmack and Peyser will oversee the company’s four divisional heads as it works to expand its product offering, continue to innovate and expand into international markets.
Stollmack said that because he is “addicted to Weatherproof and addicted to work, I knew if I didn’t get out now, I never would. And I don’t want written on my tombstone that I was the guy responsible for the Obama billboard.”
He said he is “exploring several options” for the future and hopes to do some pro-bono mentoring work. “I want to help young people develop their talents,” he said.
And he expects to continue to be available to offer advice to Weatherproof. “I truly believe Weatherproof can be the next $1 billion brand,” he said of the company that Peyser said is “more than a third of the way there.”