Alvin Segal, the chairman and chief executive officer of Peerless Clothing International, died at his Montreal home on Friday, according to his obituary. He was 90 years old.
One of his last public industry appearances was at Peerless’ annual golf tournament at the end of August.
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The notoriously private Segal started working in the factory of his stepfather’s company in Montreal in 1951 and over the course of his career built the largest men’s tailored clothing manufacturing company in North America. He is also credited with bringing the engineered suit to the continent.
In a book he wrote in 2017 on the occasion of Peerless’ 100th anniversary — “My Peerless Story: It Starts With the Collar” — Segal recounted how he learned business from the collar down and from the ground up, transforming a family-owned business into one that would eventually come to license labels of everyone from Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein and Michael Kors to Kenneth Cole.
The book detailed the history of garment manufacturing in Montreal and how he managed to grow the company by improving fabrics and adapting to the ever-changing industry trends. The business was on the verge of closing in the late ’80s when the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement was finalized allowing Segal to capitalize on the opportunity to expand beyond Canada. He is also credited with bringing the engineered suit to North America.
Segal was well known for his philanthropy. He endowed the Segal Cancer Centre for Treatment and Research at the Montreal Jewish General Hospital and was responsible for developing the Segal Centre for Performing Arts into a strong and stable institution dedicated to nurturing, producing and presenting world-class Yiddish and English language theater.
For his contributions to the apparel industry, Alvin was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada in May 2002; in July 2010 he was promoted to Officer of the Order of Canada for his continued contributions to various organizations, notably in the arts and health care sector, as well as education and social services. Additionally, he was appointed Officer of the Ordre National du Québec in June 2011 for his dedication and contribution to arts and health care in the city of Montreal.
Services were held on Sunday at 11 a.m. at Paperman & Sons, 3888 Jean Talon Street W, in Montreal. Burial will follow at the Congregation Shaar Hashomayim Cemetery.
The family will be sitting Shiva at Segal’s Montreal home from Sunday through Friday.
Segal is survived by his wife Emmelle, his daughters Barbara and Renee, his son Joel, two sisters, eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Donations in his memory can be made to the Segal Cancer Centre, 514-340-8251, or the Segal Centre for Performing Arts, 514-739-7944, segalcentre.org.