Born: The Bronx, New York, 1946.
Education: Self-taught in design. Family: Married Nancy McTague, 1982; children: two. Career: Apprentice designer, Paul Ressler Pants, New York, circa 1966; owner/designer, Country Britches, New York, 1967-73; design assistant, Chaps by Ralph Lauren, 1973-76; designer, Country Roads by Robert Stock, from 1976; formed Robert Stock Designs, 1978; co-owner/designer, Robert Stock Designs Ltd., 1990-99; women's line introduced, 1992; children's line introduced, 1993; licenses include men's shirts and ties, from 1991, jeans, and leather goods, from 1992; licensed overcoats, hosiery, and footwear, 1994; loungewear separates licensed, 1995; cotton jackets, 1996; Robert Stock School Gear, 1999; closed Robert Stock Ltd. and signed licensing pact with Capital Mercury Apparel, 1999. Awards: American Fashion Critics Coty award, 1978.
"Robert Stock: Quiet on the Fashion Front," in GQ (New York), April 1981.
"Robert Stock," in DNR, 12 March 1987.
"Robert Stock Forms Firm," in DNR, 19 June 1990.
"Robert Stock Ltd.," in DNR, 4 August 1993.
"Mister Coats Gets Robert Stock License," in DNR, 27 January 1994.
Schneider-Levy, "Stock Adds Shoes to Fashion Lineup," in Footwear News, 5 December 1994.
"Robert Stock Expands Pacts with Foster," in DNR, 6 October 1995.
Socha, Miles, "Robert Stock Limited," in DNR, 29 May 1996.
"U-Got-It Gets Robert Stock License for 1997," in DNR, 14 October 1996.
Romero, Elena, "…Robert Stock Creates Stylish Uniforms for Back-to-School," in DNR, 19 April 1999.
Dodd, Annmarie, "Robert Stock to Dissolve Manufacturing Company," in DNR, 11 October 1999.
Curan, Catherine, "Designer Patches up Menswear Label with License Deal; Robert Stock Allies with Large Company," in Crain's New York Business, 29 November 1999.
As a fashion designer, Robert Stock achieved a remarkably successful about-turn. His first foray into the fashion industry, after an apprenticeship with a trouser company, was to form Country Britches, a company that produced traditional sportswear—including classic slacks and polo shirts—fitting into almost any traditional department store. Stock later sold the company and went to work with Ralph Lauren, the master of timeless dressing. He aided in the design and development of Chaps, Lauren's lower-priced men's sportswear division which later became a division of Warnaco.
Country Roads by Robert Stock, a division of Creighton Industries, was the company for which Stock designed after leaving Ralph Lauren. Appropriately, this line followed the same traditional vein— sportswear to appeal to the conventional middle American male. In 1990 Stock and a partner formed Robert Stock Designs to manufacture men's knitwear. Soon after, sandwashed silk pieces were added and the company grew swiftly from a firm worth $10 million into one valued at $100 million.
Although it would be inaccurate to credit Stock as designer of a line consisting chiefly of plain and print sandwashed silk shirts, he should be credited for recognizing that silk, considered a luxury fabric, could be sourced and manufactured in the Far East at a cheaper price than previously thought. By adding this luxury line, Stock offered consumers value at an affordable price, referred to in the market as "perceived value." Stock expanded his offering of silk luxury to both the womenswear and boyswear markets and reintroduced the leisure suit to the menswear market. His version, however, was almost active wear; a sweat-or warm-up suit offered not in the usual nylon or Goretex, but in sandwashed silk. Such an ensemble, designed for leisure or sport and manufactured in a luxurious fabric seemed incongruous, yet clients snapped them up.
The success brought by sandwashed silk apparel enabled Stock to enter into a slew of licensing agreements in other areas, including tailored clothing, furnishings, neckwear, jeans, knitwear, hosiery, footwear, loungewear, and the outerwear market, including both casual and dress outerwear. Stock took another tack in 1999, when he began designing school uniforms. Commenting on the new label, Robert Stock School Gear, to Daily News Record (19 April 1999) the designer said, "The collection is value driven yet it also offers tremendous quality as well as a degree of style." The range included both short-and long-sleeved button-down shirts, polo shirts, sweaters, and pants made from twill, flannel, and gabardine pants and were sold to high-end department stores.
By the end of the 20th century, Stock had decided to close his manufacturing firm, Robert Stock Ltd., in favor of his burgeoning licensing business. A subsequent licensing pact with Capital Mercury Apparel had Stock designing men's sportswear, shirts, and swim gear for a fall 2000 launch. Stock told Annmarie Dodd of DNR (11 October 1999), "In today's marketplace teaming up with a manufacturer like Capital Mercury can only help to elevate the brand and allow me to concentrate on design."
As an erstwhile traditional designer, Robert Stock has pushed the limits of traditional men's sportswear by changing the face of the fabrics used. Once considered the "King of Silk," an evolving market forced him to segue into less appreciated forms of fashion. Though he has referred to himself as the "Ford or Chevrolet of designers," this is an understatement of his worth—unless, of course, he meant Corvettes or Lincoln Navigators.
updated by Owen James