NEW YORK — Martin Gilbert, a veteran salesman on Seventh Avenue, died Tuesday night at Good Samaritan Hospital in West Palm Beach, Fla. He was 82.
The cause of death was a stroke, according to his son, Richard.
During his career, Gilbert worked at better-price sportswear firms such as Rochelle Creations and Trophy Fashions. He also dabbled in denim, helping Richard launch Zena Jeans in the Eighties.
Gilbert loved to to regale listeners with a story about the origins of stonewashed jeans. In Gilbert’s version, a warehouse in Irapuato, Mexico, stocked with new denim was flooded during a storm. After the waters ebbed, the worn-out styles were shipped to Bloomingdale’s, where they sold out in hours.
Gilbert’s charm stood him well on Seventh Avenue, said one old friend.
“He was the best-looking guy in the fashion industry,” said Herbert Mehl, head of Mehl Trimmings and a friend for 50 years.
“There wasn’t a buyer in the industry who wouldn’t give him an order.” There will be a graveside service in Farmingdale, N.Y., for family and friends today.
In addition to Richard, who is president of Mudd Jeans, Gilbert is survived by his wife, Minna; a son, Eric, and six grandchildren. His granddaughter Alexandra recently launched another denim-based apparel venture in New York, called Paper Denim & Cloth.