NEW YORK — Maxwell Mallis, a retired accessories salesman who sold most of his family on the fashion trade, died on Tuesday of respiratory failure. He was 82.
Mallis was a native New Yorker and an avid sportsman, starting his career in the Thirties working for a Seventh Avenue dress house, R&K, so he could be part of the industry’s old basketball league. He had a natural charm, captivating in the ways of the salesmen of his era, and became a notable player in the accessories market, working at firms like Sally Gee, Novelty Veiling, Baar & Beards and Glentex Scarves — then the licensee for Givenchy.
He also inspired several family members to take up careers in fashion, including his daughter, Fern, who has been executive director for the Council of Fashion Designers of America the last 10 years and remains executive director of 7th on Sixth. His late brother, Philip, was a vice president of sales at Schwartz-Leibman Textiles; one nephew, Harvey, is executive vice president for neckwear and belts at Salant Industries; and a niece and another nephew, Joyce and Stephen, are principals in Ring-A-Levio.
“He had a huge influence on my coming into fashion industry,” said Fern Mallis.
Terre Simpson, owner of Simpson Associates, an executive search firm, said Mallis hired her for her first job, working for Glentex, 28 years ago.
“He was the quintessential salesman,” Simpson said. “He really stood for the positive things in the market that existed several years ago and he really cared.”
Mallis is also survived by two other daughters, Stephanie Mallis and Joanne Lampley. Services are planned for today at 11:30 a.m. at Riverside Chapel at 180 West 76th Street.