INSIDE STORY: RAFFI SHAYA’S FAMILY SECRETS

As one of the menswear industry’s favorite family businesses, Raffi (maker of sophisticated luxury knitwear) is now run by the three Shaya daughters: Kareen, Limor and Shirley. Each is beautiful, talented and smart; each has their father’s optimism, as well as his passion for perfection.

All of which helps explain the success of this company in a very difficult year. (According to Raffi, his cashmere sweaters sold out in December, mostly at full price.) Having spent considerable time on the selling floors of their loyal retail partners (including Harry Rosen, Mitchells and Boyds), the girls closely observed how customers shop. One observation: men respond to fashion; basics are no longer ringing the registers. To support this direction, the fall ‘17 Raffi collection features tons of fashion items and details: ottoman stitching, herringbone crisscross stitching, interesting cables, double cuffs, saddle shoulders, textures, elbow details, double zippers, reversibles, sweater jackets, knit coats, innovative vests, and much more, all in beautiful fall shades. 

Another thing the girls learned: there’s always a place for luxury gift items! Cashmere blankets, throws, hats and scarves continue to generate incremental sales. What’s more, if you think the men’s collection is amazing (and you will once you shop fall ‘17 at next week’s MRket show at the Javits), just wait ‘til you see the women’s line: sophisticated, sexy, contemporary and comfortable, just how modern women want to dress these days, as evidenced by the modern women at Raffi. Women’s is already 20 percent of the business and growing; the contemporary feel of the women’s collection is increasingly influencing the men’s. 

(L-R) Limor, Shirley, and Kareen

Other plans for growth include adding a children’s collection (Raffi Bambino), and expanding both aqua-cotton (up 300 percent!) and athleisure knits, perfect for travel and ticketed at $95 to $225 at 70 percent markup! Another goal for 2017: to enhance the customer experience via customization, even bringing in an embroiderer to monogram sweaters and baby blankets on retail selling floors.

Asked for their crystal ball on the business, Limor and Shirley ultimately envision it at 10 times its current size while Kareen insists that in today’s precarious climate, there is no crystal ball. “Life will always throw us challenges but we’re prepared. We’re modern spiritual women; we inject consciousness into all that we do and we’re willing to evolve. Much credit goes to Arlette, our amazing mom who continues to support and inspire us. And of course to our dad, who has infused us with his energy, enthusiasm and joy for life.” Adds Raffi, “To have all three of my daughters in the business with me, what greater joy is there?”

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