Arthur Jablow reflecting on his father-in-law, Maurice Rentner. There is a most interesting section in the Oral Memoirs of Maurice Rentner, (his father-in-law) which provides considerable insight into other facets of the ready-to-wear business.
This interview discusses Barbara D'Arcy's experiences working at Bloomingdale's as the designer of the model rooms from 1958 to 1973. A large part of the conversation focuses on D'Arcy's professional relationship with Marvin Traub, Chief Excecutive of Bloomingdale's and his role in the development of the aesthetic identity of Bloomingdale's. D'Arcy also discusses her transition from model room designer to her role as head of store design.
Carl Levine describes his early years in the home furnishings business working for his small family business before talking about his start at Bloomingdale's. The Sr. VP of Home Furnishings at the time of this interview, Levine traces the major developments of the Home Furnishings department at Bloomingdale's throughout his 30 years at the department store. Describing the department as "having trouble" when he arrived in 1955, Levine speaks at length about Bloomingdale's decision to manufacture exclusive product overseas with a special attention towards accurate period reproductions. He then talks about working with Barbara D'arcy, the creator of Bloomingdale's innovative model rooms in the 1960s. Levine, who studied furniture and crafts and design at Syracuse University as well as the NY School of Interior Design, addresses the role of education in grooming a successful executive, especially in regards to understanding the history of fashion and design. In talking about Bloomingdale's CEO Marvin S. Traub, Levine describes his strong family life, his essential role as a diplomat in the creation of the country promotions, and his tireless determination and sense of humor. Finally, Levine addresses the concept of the "Bloomingdale's customer", taking into account the increasing number of Bloomingdale's stores across various regions.
This conversation has three main components: first, Tomchin discusses his work in the home furnishings department, consolidating the department into one cohesive collection under the guidance of a fashion director, similar to the structure of the clothing departments. This allowed the department to present more fully developed design ideas to the customer, encouraging the customer to work as her own decorator, just as the fashion departments allowed her to be her own stylist. Next, Tomchin speaks at length about Bloomingdale's emphasis on exclusivity of product, whether through the development of Bloomingdale's own signature products, through the introduction of new international products through the country promotions, or through the collaborative efforts between Bloomingdale's and manufacturers to create products that would be of special interest to the Bloomingdale's customer. This convseration focuses heavily on the importance of the educated buyer in understanding other cultures and being able to translate the excitement of products to the customer. Finally, Tomchin speaks to the major contributions and milestones of Bloomingdale's CEO Marvin S. Traub, who opened 5 new Bloomingdale's stores during the first 8 years of Tomchin's tenure with the department store. Traub is described as having a parental sense of care and interest in the store and as having a level of respect for the customer that translated into thoughtful selection and exhibition of products.
Rosalind Snyder, Founder Dean Emeritus 1944-1963 of FIT, discusses the Institute’s inception at the Central High School of Needle Trades, it’s founding vision, and it’s progression to a college-level institution. Snyder describes the educational trajectory that led to her initial post as Assistant Director alongside Dr. Mortimer Ritter at the Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, N.Y.). She describes the early demographics of students and the evolution of the Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, N.Y.)’s curriculum and educational policy, detailing close relationships with the fashion industry itself. Snyder discusses the spirit of collaboration and creativity in the early days of the Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, N.Y.), listing founding educators and innovators who helped the Institute flourish. Snyder pays particular attention to the 1950s wherein the Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, N.Y.) found a home on 27th street and, in 1951, was authorized as a community college; cementing its status as an academic institution of note. Snyder retired from her post in 1963, but asserts her continued belief in the permanence of the Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, N.Y.)’s unique vision of creative exploration.
This interview covers broad subjects including women in the retail industry, family work balance, and the evolving role of the department store. The majority of the conversation concerns Bloomingdale's CEO at the time, Marvin S. Traub, with whom Barbara Bass worked closely. Bass talk about Traub's strong relationship with his wife, his high energy, his excellent listening skills, and his long-range style of thinking. Bass describes Traub as being pragmatic, and credits this as the reason why women and men are given equal opportunities in Bloomingdale's. Bass doesn't provide much information about her own job, only to describe her role as that of a "liason between the store line and the merchandising organizations." Though this was a time when there was speculation about the future downfall of department stores, Bass is positive in her statement that department stores will remain relavant as long as they continue to evolve with the customer. While Bass observes trends at this time to be less fast and severe than in the past, she does talk about Bloomingdale's as the birth place and death place of new trends. She then describes Bloomingdale's customer to be upscale, educated, "young-thinking", and traditionally dressed.
This interview is with Jeannette Jarnow, the first chairperson of the Buying and Merchandising Department at the Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, N.Y.). Jarnow describes her professional ascent at the department store, Abraham & Straus, up to 1944; when she took a brief break due to her first pregnancy. Jarnow describes the path that led her to seek out a teaching post at the Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, N.Y.). Instead of offering Jarnow a professorial post, Rosalind Snyder invited her to found the Buying and Merchandising Department in 1956. Jarnow describes the challenges of starting a department including the extent of publicity efforts for the department as well as for the Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, N.Y.) itself, still struggling to make its name known in the Industry. As there were little to no instructional materials available, Jarnow assembled several books such as, “The Mathematics of Retail Merchandising,” and “Inside the Fashion Business,” that would come to be used by other educational institutions as well as by professional training programs. Jarnow briefly theorizes why the Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, N.Y.) was not as impacted by student unrest in the 1960s before launching into a depiction of the industry seminars her department held as a service to the Industry. She continues on to discuss the evolution of merchandising with the rise of chain stores, and the ways in which the Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, N.Y.) stays on top of industry trends. Finally Jarnow lists a host of successful alumni such as Sidney Biddle Barrow, the “Mayflower Madam,” who became famous for founding the most expensive call-girl operation in New York City.
This is an interview with Dean Marion Brandriss, who retired from the Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, N.Y.) in 1973. Brandriss explains her work as an English teacher and how she came to work at the City High School of Needle Trades where she met Mortimer Ritter. Brandriss explains how Ritter hand-picked his favorite instructors to help him build what would become the Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, N.Y.). She discusses touring high schools in the spring of 1944 to recruit students for the inaugural class, and offering incentives such as a weekly scholarship to all prospective students. Brandiss started at the Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, N.Y.) as the Director of Admissions, but elucidates the vast scope of work she and the small team were expected to take on. Brandriss describes the student body demographics, transitioning settings, and evolving admissions policies of the Institute as it continued to grow. Brandriss then explains how departments were added and goes into depth on the particular success of the Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, N.Y.)?s Fashion Buying and Merchandising Department. Brandriss ends the interview with a recollection of Mortimer Ritter?s insistence on the Institute?s name, saying that he wanted it to resemble that of M.I.T. in sound and flavor.
In this conversation, Marvin S. Traub talks about his start at Bloomingdale's, and details his first seven positions at the company. He describes the Bloomingdale's customer as being someone who is interested in change and forward fashion, someone who "likes different things at different times" and who expects Bloomingdale's to alert them to the newest trends. Traub expresses his pride at helping to develop the careers of some of the industry's influential designers and executives and credits Bloomingdale's success to its team of talented and respectful employees. Traub talks about the role his wife has played in his life and he discusses his three children and their endeavors. In discussing some of the major changes at Bloomingdale's during Traub's tenure, there is mention of the Country Promotions, the branded shopping bags, the in-house boutiques, and Bloomingdale's role as a cultural center within a community. Traub referes to several different people as role models and peers, including Jed Davidson, Martha Graham, Bill Blass, and his wife, Lee.
This interview takes place at a time when Bloomingdale's President Marvin S. Traub was being awarded the "Person Who Makes the Difference" award from the Fashion Institute of Technology. Gordon Cooke discusses the various ways in which Traub's style of leadership and business has made a difference in Bloomingdale's success not just as a department store but as an innovator in the world of promotions and business relations. Cooke uses Bloomingdale's country promotions as examples of Traub's creativity and insight regarding promotions. Cooke discusses the team-syle development of ideas, describing the equal value placed on promotions, design, sales, etc. as being instrumental in the creative development of Bloomingdale's. Cooke credits Bloomingale's with opening up trade with various countries before even the U.S. government had fully developed trade with these countries. Finally, Cooke talks about Traub's collaboration with both established and cutting-edge artists in advertisements and promotions.
In this interview, Stravitz focuses mostly on the challenges and successes he has faced in trying to expand the Bloomingdale's model into other markets. In doing this, he covers the importance of paying attention to each market's regional needs as well as ways in which marketing can be tailored to suit a particular market, culturally. At the same time, Stravitz explores what the New York store represents and how that can be carried through in other markets. A larger discussion of the crossover between department stores and specialty stores looks at what makes Bloomingdale's especially strong in both categories. As an example, Stravitz talks about the two "Bloomie's Express" specialty shops which Bloomingdale's had launched at JFK airport a few months before this interview. Stravitz describes the Bloomingdale's customer, across all markets, to be sophisticated, well-traveled, fashionable, and possibly affluent. In discussing his direct boss, Bloomingdale's CEO Marvin S. Traub, Stravitz describes him as deeply caring about the people he works with. He argues that Traub's personal concern for the business as well as the people connected to it result in high expectations as well as a supportive work environment. Traub's encouragement to try new things and his willingness to take the risk and support these ventures, Stravitz suggests, are what make Bloomingdale's an especially creative and entrepreneurial place.
This is an interview with Marvin Feldman, the Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, N.Y.)’s longest-serving president, whose term ran from 1971 to 1992. The interview begins with a summary of Feldman’s military background and education, followed by his early work experience for the Ford Foundation and United States government agencies. He then explains his search for college presidencies in both the private and public sectors, and how he ended up at the Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, N.Y.). He describes the administration, faculty, and physical plant when he joined as president, and the Institute’s evolution from a two-year community college to an institution offering a four-year baccalaureate. Feldman then delves into the Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, N.Y.)’s interfacing with both the New York State government and various industry groups. He describes the hierarchy of the Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, N.Y.)’s administration and its management style. Feldman goes on to explain how departments grow and develop into viable courses and majors, and gives a detailed description of the Marketing program. He discusses the growth of international fashion merchandising, and then introduces two new Master’s programs. Finally, Feldman discusses the industry’s need for trained workers and how the Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, N.Y.) will function in the years ahead.