What do hot guys, six packs and charity have to do with each other? When it comes to Jeffrey Kalinsky, everything.
Atlanta-born Kalinsky took the retail world by storm with his high-end store Jeffrey, and for the last 21 years he’s put his money where his mouth is and given back to those in need. We’re talking $11 million to the LGBT community’s most important charities, including the Hetrick-Martin Institute, Lambda Legal, ACRIA and The Point Foundation.
When Jeffrey introduced his fashion show and reception benefit to New York in 2003, he brought with it a legacy of community involvement and philanthropy. In just 10 years, the event has raised more than $4 million for LGBT and LGBT youth charities in NYC. Jeffrey’s fashion collaborations have brought back rites of passage brands such as Sperry, Gant and Brooks Brothers.
Who’s the man behind this monster caring brand? Let’s meet him.
How did Jeffrey Fashion Cares start? It started 21 years ago in Atlanta at Jeffrey’s. In 1992, AIDS was ravaging. I had an event in the store to benefit AIDS and later breast cancer. For 10 years, people asked me to do a men’s fashion show. In a weak moment, I OK’d it and made the Jeffrey Cares fashion show and auction. Now, it’s at the Intrepid. ... We raised around $811,000 this year.
What are some big trends in menswear for spring 2013? I’m not a trend proponent, more of a proponent of style. I like cool paint-splattered Sperry’s camouflage for men, Heidi Slimane for St. Laurent, Dries van Noten and Givenchy.
Are the girlfriend skinny jeans selling well? (He laughs.) Girlfriend jeans are selling well.
What’s exciting in men’s accessories? The return of the utilitarian backpacks are big for summer. My particular favorite is the Givenchy.
What’s your business model? Our business model is an old-fashioned brick-and-mortar retailer. No expansion, just Atlanta and New York.
What do you think of online distribution? I never thought to shop online. I like the experience of the store, but we have a strong online presence.
Was the paint- splattered idea yours? Yes, the Sperry with paint splatter and on the Brooks Brothers ties was my idea. Sperry has been our most successful collaboration for the last eight years. It started with the barrel lace sailing shoe, which we created. That became very successful. For Gant, we changed the proportion of the shorts and shirts to make them more wearable. I love creating product that will sell out in the market.
What are your favorite haunts? For the last 13 years, I’ve been a regular at Pastis and all Keith McNally restaurants, like Balthazar. I also love to walk the Riverfront Park.
Where do you work out? I work out at Chelsea Piers for it’s on the water. The light and the water give it a feeling of wellness.
What do you wear to work out? I wear my Adidas shorts, Nike sneakers and a vintage T-shirt.
What else do you find special about New York? I love the theater. I just saw “Matilda.”
Where do you shop? I shop at my store, and sometimes I shop at Hermes. I’m obsessed with the knitwear like the shawl-collared sweaters and the Baha hoodie from Spring 2013.