There’s a changing of the guard in the offing at Paul Stuart.
Paulette Garafalo, who has been chief executive officer and president of the upscale specialty store since 2016, will relinquish that post to Trevor Shimpfky on July 1. At that time, she will assume the post of executive chairman, a role previously held by Masatoshi Nakano, an executive with Mitsui, the store’s Japan-based owner.
Garafalo, a long-tenured industry executive whose past positions included CEO of both Hickey Freeman and Bally’s America, recruited Shimpfky to Paul Stuart four years ago as vice president of omni, where he was in charge of overseeing the company’s retail operations.
Garafalo told WWD that at age 66 she believes now is the right time to transition to a new role. “I’m still going to be working, nothing changes there. The timing is really perfect. We’ve just gone through a horrible two years but the business is profitable, the stores are doing really well, they’ve all been modernized as has our communication, so this is a wonderful time to turn over the lead to Trevor.”
She said in her new position, she will work on succession, real estate, budgets and will serve as the liaison to the board. “But I won’t be overseeing the day-to-day anymore,” she said.
Garafalo said she and the team from Mitsui have been talking about her taking on a different role for at least two years and with Nakano’s return to Tokyo, they asked her to step up to that position. “They trusted me to stay on and assume the chairman’s role,” she said.
Garafalo said she and Shimpfky have worked closely for four years so his elevation to CEO represents “consistency” for the company.
In announcing the change to employees, Garafalo said: “The future looks bright here. With the talented and dedicated Paul Stuart team currently in place, the brand’s business is strong with plans for a healthy growth trajectory.”
Under Garafalo’s leadership the company modernized its messaging, launched customLab for made-to-order suits and shirts, opened a boutique in Southampton, N.Y., and expanded its wholesale operations with customers including Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus.
Shimpfky started his career as retail director at Robert Talbott for 10 years before joining Ermenegildo Zegna as the head of wholesale for North America, a post he held for 16 years.
“My support of our creative director [Ralph Auriemma] and his unyielding pursuit of product pre-eminence while staying focused on our digital transformation will be my primary goal as I begin my tenure as CEO and president,” Shimpfky said.
Garafalo added: “With Trevor’s expertise, hard work and loyalty to Paul Stuart, the brand will continue to thrive, evolve and expand for years to come. I look forward to our continued partnership as we move into this next chapter at Paul Stuart.”
Garafalo joined Paul Stuart from Brooks Brothers where she was president, international, wholesale and manufacturing. She also served as CEO of the Americas at Bally and CEO and group president of Hickey Freeman at Hartmarx Luxury Group.
Paul Stuart was founded in 1938 by Ralph Ostrove and operates stores on Madison Avenue and Southampton in New York as well as in Chicago and Washington, D.C. Mitsui bought the business from the founding family at the end of 2012. It had been the company’s Japanese licensee since 1975 and operates more than 100 Paul Stuart shops in Japan as well as two flagships in Tokyo.