LOS ANGELES — Stanley Hirsh, a garment manufacturer, real estate mogul and longtime philanthropist here, died Saturday at his Studio City home after suffering from a brain tumor for a year-and-a-half. He was 76.
This story first appeared in the March 26, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Hirsh amassed a portfolio of six buildings in downtown’s Fashion District — including the 11-story Cooper Building — and led the area’s revitalization efforts after the 1992 riots that left buildings vandalized.
He also was a fervent supporter of such organizations as the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles, where he served as president, and numerous Democratic campaigns through the years.
“He was the last of the breed,” said Ilse Metchek, executive director of the California Fashion Association. “The Fifties, Sixties and Seventies saw a group of men — including Seymor Graff, Jack Needleman, Lou Tabak and Ben Eisenberg — who made a lot of money in the apparel business, and as fast as they made it, they gave it away. He was the biggest one in terms of philanthropy and he was never afraid to take a chance in business and partnerships.”
A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Hirsh moved to California with his family when he was 14. Following a stint in the Navy, he went to work for House of Nine as an assistant store manager. That led to a sales manager position at Elaine Terry sportswear before he founded his own sportswear and dress company, S. Howard Hirsh. The company expanded to include the Alex Coleman, Elizabeth Stewart and California Girl labels, and it is now a manufacturer of private label swimsuits.
As his business grew, Hirsh and his wife Anita, who were married in 1961 (both for the second time), delved into real estate, beginning with the purchase of the Cooper Building in 1976.
His vision in the trade led to one of his most successful ventures: converting the Cooper Building into a discount shopping center before the craze swept retailing.
Philanthropy and civic duty were twin constants in his life. Hirsh ran an unsuccessful campaign for the Los Angeles City Council, but his political involvement continued through fundraisers and campaign contributions. He also served as chairman of the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency and led the city’s efforts to woo Bloomingdale’s in the Nineties.
Friends and colleagues say he was instrumental in introducing them to the world of charity, including Robert Margolis, chairman and chief executive of Van Nuys-based Cherokee Inc. Hirsh sought out Margolis about 20 years ago when he was assembling a philanthropic club comprised of Jewish executives in the apparel industry. But it wasn’t all serious — weekly poker games were another activity the members pursued, and Hirsh was a master.
“He rarely lost,” Margolis said. “He was about 15 years older than us and was one of our best friends. He told us great stories and was an inspiration to us all.”
Besides his wife, Hirsh is survived by four children, Steve, Adam, Jennifer and Elizabeth Hirsh Naftali, and four grandchildren. Memorial services will be announced.