Interview with Karen Alberg-Grossman


April 18, 2013 by Ville Raivio

‘Editor and chief of MR magazine; I like to think that I am truly ageless (but the mirror does not always agree), BA degree from Syracuse University. My husband Terry Grossman is a C.P.A. and typical American male shopper: he helps me understand the fashion-adverse mindset of many American males from the Baby Boom generation. My three kids are in their 20s and early 30s: they are my inspiration for fashion risk-taking and personal style. Each has a very unique way of dressing that relates to his/her individual personality. For example, my oldest son, Mike, wears mostly black or white plain tee shirts with jeans (he is a wilderness trainer and spends much of his time climbing.) Dan has a corporate job and is very preppy: he wears mostly button-down collar shirts and khakis.  Erica is highly creative and somewhat bohemian, with a passion for accessories and jewelry. She always looks fabulous, never ordinary.


I grew up in the mod 60s and wore the shortest skirts, the whitest lipstick, the blackest eyeliner. My parents were horrified, but that didn’t stop me. My father, Max Alberg, was vice president of menswear at Macy’s in NYC where he worked for 30 years. I worked there, too, when I was in high school and in college during summer vacations, and learned a lot about the business of fashion. He was also a very dapper dresser with tremendous style and charm. I learned so much from him, about quality and style and first impressions, but, more importantly, about how to treat people.


Ms Alberg-Grossman as host of the pretigious Uptown Downtown dinner at the Four Seasons hotel in NYC

Most of my knowledge comes from shopping the market (trade shows, showrooms, factories) and from staying in constant touch with retailers. I am also always talking to men about how they dress and why. We do focus groups and consumer surveys on a regular basis. My mother, Ursula, comes from a very affluent family in Germany and truly values appearances. To this day, I make sure I’m well dressed whenever I see my mom; she does not react well to sloppy or overly trendy.


Ms Alberg-Grossman with Mark Teixeira of the New York Yankees

MR magazine is the largest men’s trade magazine in the States. We launched in 1990 because we felt that DNR (the men’s counterpart of WWD) was not doing a good enough job capturing the heart and soul of the industry. DNR has since gone out of business, while MR is going strong, both in print and online. We write about the business and the fashion, but we also write about the people and what makes them tick. MR is essentially a trade magazine for industry insiders. GQ and Esquire are consumer magazines. That said, consumers who want to learn more about the business tend to love MR because it goes a level or two deeper.


Ms Alberg-Grossman with Jason Taylor (right), former Miami Dolphins football star, now commentator for ESPN, at a Zegna event in NYC

MRket is the quintessential men’s trade show, featuring luxury to contemporary menswear collections. There’s a separate section for new and innovative companies and much trend information and direction. All the top menswear stores in America, and internationally, shop MRket in NYC and Vegas. Technology has revolutionized the industry: more business is done online, more items are customized via new fitting and design technology, more marketing is done through social media. That said, it’s still mostly about beautiful clothing sold by knowledgeable experts. Fashion-wise, there’s a definite trend to dress-up; tailored clothing has never looked more beautiful and is increasingly popular among young people.


Ms Alberg-Grossman at a IACDE convention modelling an award-winning coat

I love sitting in parks or cafes or train stations or airports and striking up conversations with interesting people, many of whom happen to be men (I believe flirting is one of the joys of life, at any age). My personal style, these days, is understated and subdued. I like to wear simple, fitted sheath dresses or slim pants with tailored jackets. I don’t buy very expensive clothing, except on occasion; two favorite brands are Kenneth Cole and BCBG. My personal blogs are more about business and life than they are about fashion. For example, I just wrote about my son’s beach wedding in Costa Rica and how hard it was for the guys to figure out what to wear. But my MR editors (all in their 20s and 30s) are very tuned in to the contemporary fashion scene, and your readers would learn a lot about men’s fashion and lifestyle trends by checking out on a daily basis.


Ms Alberg-Grossman presenting an award to Russ Patrick, VP of Neiman Marcus, at the sixth annual Uptown Downtown dinner

I love beach yoga, theater, and music of all kinds. I also love writing poetry and essays: my next goal is to work with elderly people, helping them to write their life stories. Very simply, I would like men to know that they can step up their style quotient without looking foolish by making a few simple changes. Buy clothes that fit (have a professional help you). Embrace a more modern look (clothes today are a bit slimmer and more body-conscious). Don’t be afraid of color, if not in the apparel itself, then in the accessories (socks, scarves, pocket squares, hats, belts). Pay attention to shoes (brown suede looks great with grey and navy clothing!) And don’t feel you must follow a rule book: express yourself and have fun with clothing. For why not?’

Pictures: © Karen Alberg-Grossman

1 comment »

  1. Bill Lavin says:

    Karen is a Rock Star in our industry..!! Always spot on what’s going on in our businesses and sharing her intuitive awearness of upcoming and important trends to be ready for…!!
    I always love to speak with Karen on not just a business level but even more on a family level… ;-)
    It’s an honor for me to work with this amazing woman… ;-)

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Only a beautiful life is worth living.

"If John Bull turns around to look at you, you are not well dressed; but either too stiff, too tight, or too fashionable".
~ Beau Brummell