The men’s wear industry on Monday paid tribute to Stan Gellers, the longtime writer and columnist for the former DNR who, in the process of covering men’s apparel for more than five decades, became one of its institutions. Gellers died Saturday at age 84, following a diagnosis of lung cancer.
“Stan’s whole life was devoted to the men’s fashion industry,” said Ralph Lauren from his vacation home in Jamaica. “He loved it, particularly supporting all the struggling young designers. His voice and unique commitment will be greatly missed.”
Designers and executives, many whom knew Gellers from the start of their careers, remembered him as a tenacious, enthusiastic and, most of all, enduring reporter.
“Aside from considering him a close personal friend, he was an icon of the men’s wear industry. He had tremendous passion and will be greatly missed,” said Clifford Grodd, owner of Paul Stuart.
Added Joseph Abboud: “He was a pillar and our connection to the old guard. There was a golden era in men’s wear and he was in the middle of it.”
Born and raised in Washington Heights, N.Y., Gellers was educated at City College of New York. After a stint in the U.S. Army during World War II, he joined Fairchild Publications — also publisher of WWD — on March 12, 1956 as a reporter for Men’s Wear, the brother publication of DNR. He quickly made his mark as an observer of men’s fashion: his very first story was on the impending battle between the Ivy League look and the contoured Continental silhouette that was gaining popularity in Italy. He contributed to Men’s Wear until it ceased publication in 1983, and then joined the staff of DNR, where he remained until it was folded into WWD on Nov. 24, 2008.
“In all these years there was never a single instance of his being unaware of what was happening in our industry, who was doing it, and what the resulting ramifications might be,” said Richard Cohen, president and chief executive of Robert Talbott.
“He was an icon,” added Joe Blair, president of Individualized Apparel Group, who knew Gellers for more than 20 years. “It was always important that you get your ideas, story or product in front of Stan.”
During his 52-year career at Fairchild, Gellers both documented the shifting trends of fashion and outlasted them. When he joined the company as a 32-year-old reporter, men still wore sack suits to work and the concept of sportswear was gaining mass appeal. By the end of his career, the market had been revolutionized by the ascent of designer brands, lifestyle merchandising, the casualization of the workplace and the growth of vertical retail.