Private services have been held for Peter Silverstone, a longtime Canadian manufacturing executive who owned SFI Apparel in Montreal. Silverstone, 82, died Sept. 6 at his home in Toronto of prostate cancer, according to his son, designer Arnold Brant Silverstone.
Peter Silverstone was born in 1938 in Toronto. In his youth, he played a variety of sports including hockey, where he was part of the Junior League. He also participated in water-skiing and baseball and later in life, took up tennis, winning a tournament this past winter at the age of 81.
He got his start in the apparel business by working for his father’s manufacturing company, Merit Clothes, in Montreal. After his father’s death, Silverstone took over the operation of the business, which was created in 1944, and proceeded to upgrade and modernize the facility, his son said. He was the first to embrace European technology, hiring GFT, which owned the Giorgio Armani, Valentino and Joseph Abboud labels, allowing him to build a state-of-the-art factory in Montreal that cut labor time by 30 to 40 percent while making clothes that were lighter and more stylish in the Italian way. He was also among the first to sign licensing arrangements with European brands such as Karl Lagerfeld and others.
In the Eighties, he changed the name of the business from Merit to SFI Apparel, which was intended to reflect the company’s move to more upscale manufacturing. It stands for Silverstone Fashion International. Peter Silverstone was also instrumental in the creation of his son’s Arnold Brant men’s wear label.
In 2005, Oxford Industries purchased SFI as well as the Arnold Brant brands. At that time, the company employed around 400 people in its Montreal plant and had annual revenues of about $50 million. Oxford had previously used SFI to make suits and jackets for its Ben Sherman line.
Peter Silverstone remained with SFI under Oxford’s ownership for two years before retiring.
“He was my hero because unlike any other man I’ve ever met, he did everything so well,” Arnold Silverstone said. “Some people excel in business, some people are excellent in sports, some people are good humanitarians, some people are great family men, some people are good community leaders. But my father did it all so well with humility, class, generosity, kindness and intelligence.”
In addition to his son Arnold, he is survived by Dena, his wife of 57 years, as well as two other children, David and Stacey, and two grandchildren. A public memorial service will be held when it is safe to do so, Arnold Silverstone said.