Herbert Goldsmith, the cofounder of Members Only, died Feb. 22 after a battle with lymphoma. He was 92. Services will be held Wednesday at 11 a.m. at Gutterman’s, 8000 Jericho Turnpike, Woodbury, N.Y.
Goldsmith was born in the Bronx and grew up in Brooklyn where he attended Lincoln High School. After a stint in the U.S. Army, he attended Long Island University. An “inspired innovator and entrepreneur,” according to his family, Goldsmith worked for his father’s outerwear company, Chief Apparel, in the late Forties. Following his father’s death, Goldsmith partnered with Ed Wachtel to buy Europe Craft Imports Inc., in 1961. But what truly put them on the map was when they created the Members Only brand, which soon became famous for its ribbed bottom bomber jackets, in 1975. The brand, which was believed to have been the country’s largest manufacturer of men’s outerwear in the Eighties, was among the first to use celebrities in its advertising including Anthony Geary and The Gatlin Brothers. By 1984, the brand, whose tag line was “When you put it on, something happens,” had sales of around $200 million.
Eventually, the brand pivoted from celebrity to cause-related advertising including anti-drug campaigns. It was sold to the Marcade Group in 1987 at which point Wachtel retired but Goldsmith remained with the business for another six years.
In 2012, Goldsmith wrote an autobiography titled “Only the Best Will Do!” that chronicled his time in the men’s wear industry and the brand’s innovative marketing techniques. Since 2011, the brand has been owned by Members Only Licensing Group and Ron Malhotra of JR Apparel World LLC.
After leaving Members Only, Goldsmith, a lifelong lover of the arts, invested in and produced over 30 Broadway shows, four of which were nominated for Tony Awards. He won two Tonys for “Glengarry Glen Ross” and “The Two and Only.” He and his first wife, Dolores, to whom he was married for 52 years, were also avid collectors of art from the Twenties to the Nineties, according to his daughter Ileen.
In addition to Ileen, Goldsmith is survived by his wife, Myrna, his other daughters Gail and Michelle, and four grandchildren.
Donations in his name can be made to Cohen’s Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y.