Maybe it’s because the Men’s Wearhouse chain started in my hometown of Houston that I feel a little bit sad to hear of an odd-seeming parting of ways between the “fine” menswear retailer and George Zimmer, its founder and executive chairman.
In a press release, the California-based menswear retailer sent out this morning, the company said that it had “terminated George Zimmer from his position as Executive Chairman.” Zimmer took the company public in 1992 and oversaw its expansion to the over 1,100-store retail behemoth it is today.
For decades, Zimmer was the company’s well-coiffed, deep-voiced huckster, appearing in the many television spots, part-Saul Goodman, part-Mattress Mac, and part-sophisticate, who just wanted us to look good and guaranteed that he could make it so.
There are over a thousand Men’s Wearhouse franchises across this fair nation from (possibly) Bel-Air to (definitely) Brooklyn, each with posters that bear his image. To complete the picture, Zimmer was born in New York City, grew up in Scarsdale, went to Wash U in St. Louis, and was a Sammy. Zimmer learned the biz from his father, a clothing manufacturer, and then opened his first store in 1973 with his college roommates.
Zimmer, who was netting almost $2 million in salary and seems to have over $60 million of stock in the company, issued a statement that I wish I could hire Leonard Cohen to read aloud:
“Over the last 40 years, I have built The Men’s Wearhouse into a multi-billion dollar company with amazing employees and loyal customers who value the products and service they receive at The Men’s Wearhouse,” Zimmer said in a statement. “Over the past several months I have expressed my concerns to the Board about the direction the company is currently heading. Instead of fostering the kind of dialogue in the Boardroom that has, in part, contributed to our success, the Board has inappropriately chosen to silence my concerns by terminating me as an executive officer.”
Let’s hope this isn’t the last we hear from Zimmer.
Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.