Julie Dimperio Holowach, former president of Kipling USA, was killed after being attacked by a shark in Maine on Monday.
Dimperio Holowach, 63, who used her maiden name professionally, was swimming in the waters off the coast of her summer residence on Bailey Island when she was attacked by a Great White shark.
According to local media reports, she was wearing a wetsuit and swimming about 20 yards offshore just outside Mackerel Cove on Bailey Island in Harpswell when she was attacked. Two kayakers brought the victim and her daughter Alex to shore but she died at the scene. Her daughter was not injured.
Local marine researchers said shark fatalities are rare and the animal probably mistook Dimperio for a seal, one of its primary food sources. This is believed to have been the first killing of a human by a shark in Maine’s history.
Dimperio had retired in 2016 after a long career with VF Corp. She joined the company in 2000 as president of special markets for the Liz Claiborne brand and was promoted to president of Kipling North American in 2006. She remained in that position until leaving the company. Since that time, she has been a board member for the Portland, Maine-based Sea Bags, according to her LinkedIn page.
Maria Vicari-Tralongo, former president of Nautica Apparel, said of Dimperio: “There are many ways to consider a legacy in someone like Julie. Her contributions to the industry and the Kipling brand are noteworthy but I believe that she has left a more important legacy in the many coworkers and the friends and family who were all touched by her amazing spirit, her unique and enviable way of leading, mentoring and supporting of others. I am devastated by the sudden loss of my dear friend Julie.”
Karen Murray, the former head of sportswear for VF Corp., said Tuesday: “I’ve known her for 25 years. She was excited to retire and had everything she needed — her health, happiness, husband and children. She loved Bailey Island and went there often and also spent time in Florida, but she always wanted more time for family. She was a lovely, caring, dedicated, loyal, smart innovative fashion executive with strong merchandising and sales expertise. She became a strong direct-to-consumer operator absorbing herself in both retail and online businesses. She was sharp as a tack and knew how to make money. Her team loved her and she will be sorely missed.”
Elaine Hughes, chief executive officer of the search firm E.A. Hughes & Co., said: “Julie was a unique combination of creative and pragmatic, which allowed her to advance from design to a divisional presidency at VF Corp. In the 30-plus years we worked together, I used to say she was ‘The little engine that could.’ She was never discouraged from pursuing her dream to run a business and she did so by acquiring the quantitative skill sets needed to do so in all categories: from HMX women’s to Liz’s mid-tier businesses and finally the pinnacle of her career, building Kipling into an important brand. Julie loved her husband Al and children deeply and always preached to me to slow down and enjoy life as she did when she retired from VF. Julie was an incredibly loyal person and would go to the mat for you regardless of the consequences. She was a true leader, she listened and deferred praise to her team. Julie will be missed.”
In addition to her daughter, she is survived by her husband Al, her son Dean, two stepsons and several grandchildren. Information on services is unknown at this time.