NEW YORK — Burton B. “Bud” Ruby, the former chairman of Jaymar-Ruby, died Saturday at age 95.
Ruby was best known for the Sansabelt trousers he acquired from Silver Manufacturer in 1959. The style was unique at the time for its wide-webbed elastic band sewn into the waist, which allowed men with a little extra weight to be free of suspenders and belts. The Sansabelt (which stood for “sans a belt”) went onto fame when Johnny Carson touted it on his show as one of his favorite new trousers, a marketing coup arranged by Ruby.
“It was one of the first times that fashion was marketed on television,” said Maggi Spartz, president of the Unity Foundation of La Porte County, Ind., a mentee of Ruby’s. “He came up with the idea with his marketing team and, in a risky move, gave Johnny Carson $50,000 for the endeavor,” Spartz said.
The move paid off for the brand, later attracting Hartmarx Corp. to acquire the company in 1967. At its peak, one million pairs of the style were distributed worldwide.
Ruby invested in a number of other up-and-coming brands as well, including the Cesarani label under Salvatore Cesarani. In the Eighties, Ruby licensed the New York-based men’s wear brand and launched it into stores like Bloomingdale’s and Neiman Marcus.
“He was truly a gentleman who was well loved,” Cesarani said. “The experience was worth an entire lifetime. This truly saddens me because he is a loss to the entire industry.”
Ruby’s own Sansabelt line maintained its popularity until the late Nineties and slowed into the 2000s. Hartmarx Corp. filed for bankruptcy in 2009.
“He was really saddened when this happened,” recalled Spartz. “He had an office there and a life, and it was taken from him.”
In his later years, Ruby made community service and giving back to Michigan City his new mission in life. He became a board member at Memorial Hospital, a member of the Unity Foundation, raised funds for various causes and became president of the Sinai Temple. He was also a recipient of the French Legion of Honour for his services during World War II in the Army.
Ruby is survived by his wife, June; children Pamela, Kirk, Julie, John, Tom and Pat; grandchildren Alex, Bennett, Ashton, Clara, Burton, Alexis, David, Jeff, Kenn, Avivia, Kalervo and Benjamin.
Services will be held Sunday at 11 a.m. at Geisen Carlisle Funeral Home, 613 Washington Street, Michigan City, Ind.