NEW YORK — Robert G. Crystal, the retired president of David Crystal Inc.’s Haymaker division, died on Sunday at his home in Purchase, N.Y. He was 87.
Crystal was the last of two sons of company founder David Crystal, who built one of the most prominent apparel businesses on Seventh Avenue, which reached its peak in the Sixties and where designers like Bill Blass and Chuck Howard got their earliest jobs and Lauren Bacall was once a model. Robert Crystal spent some 35 years in the company, beginning as a college intern, moving merchandise from the company warehouse in pushcarts along Seventh Avenue.
After attending the University of North Carolina, Crystal joined his father’s company as a salesman and eventually ran several divisions, including Hayette, a direct competitor to Junior Sophisticates, from which designer Anne Klein spun off her signature company. David Crystal also owned the Izod Lacoste brand at one time, generating sales of $30 million by 1968, when the company went public. Two years later, David Crystal Inc. became a subsidiary of General Mills and later was absorbed into the apparel operations eventually spun off by General Mills as Crystal Brands.
Robert Crystal remained with the firm for five years, then began a second career in the option arbitrage field for another decade. His brother, Philip E. Crystal, who died in 1994, was executive vice president of the company and retired in 1970 at the time of the sale to General Mills.
Although Robert Crystal officially retired from the apparel industry in 1975, he remained interested in the fate of the David Crystal brands, including Haymaker, which survives as a label owned by the mail-order business The Tog Shop, said Crystal’s son, Robert “Gary” Crystal Jr., a former sales manager for Haymaker who now owns a travel agency, JP Travel, in Danbury, Conn.
Crystal is also survived by his wife of 60 years, Luella; a sister, Beatrice Newman, and three other sons, Jonathan A., Todd W.D. and Bruce P., and a daughter, Wendy C. Jacobi.
A memorial service is planned today at 11 a.m. at the McMahon, Lyon & Hartnett Funeral Home, 491 Mamaroneck Avenue, White Plains, N.Y.