Three Fashion Island Retailers Honored with Prestigious Industry Awards

Three Fashion Island retailers were recently honored with prestigious awards from MR magazine, a leading retail magazine for the menswear industry. American Rag Cie. and The Closet were given Uptown/ Downtown awards, while Garys owner Dick Braeger was honored with a Lifetime Achievement award. Each of the retailers was selected from boutiques nationwide, and it is believed to be the first time three retailers from the same shopping center have been honored.

According to MR Editor-in-Chief Karen Alberg Grossman, “Uptown/Downtown winners are innovative retailers who have created something special with their stores, making them exceptional in merchandising, marketing, visual presentation, in-store events, advertising, promotions, or any combination thereof.”

American Rag Cie. was honored for its popular and eclectic mix of merchandise geared to the hip Southern California shopper. Open less than a year at Fashion Island, the high-end store boasts men’s and women’s new and vintage apparel, accessories and home furnishings and decor. The Fashion Island store also has in-store shops by Hurley, Rosasen and the Limited Collection by Quiksilver. Opening soon are in-store shops by RVCA and for women, a Theory shop.

Owner Mark Werts says American Rag carries “Levi’s and the best 25 jean collections in the world, all under one roof.” The store is also known for discovering new lines and offering merchandise you won’t find at other stores.

The Closet, also an Uptown/ Downtown award winner, is “where the surf shop ends and contemporary luxury begins,” says owner Billy Stade. The store specializes in what Stade calls, “California Couture.” The Fashion Island store has been open three years.

“We take the best of the Orange County brands—RVCA, Stüssy, Volcom, Trovata—then throw a little fashion into the mix,” said Stade, adding that local brands make up about 60 percent of the men’s merchandise mix. “O.C. men are definitely very brand driven.”

Dick Braeger, honored with a Lifetime Achievement award, opened Garys at Fashion Island in 1978. Today, Garys offers four stores-within-a-store: Garys for tailored and dress/ casual clothing, a Hugo Boss store, Garys Denim and Blues for jeans and casual wear, and Garys Cole-Haan. The Garys store offers elegant tailored and casual clothing and furnishings, with an array of Italian designers including Armani, Ermenegildo Zegna, Canali and Hugo Boss, among others.

“Lifetime Achievement award winners have had an impact on the market above and beyond their own individual and exceptional stores. Dick Braeger is being recognized for his impact on the footwear market and for helping to create lightweight comfortable men’s footwear that today has become the norm. More importantly, he’s being recognized for his warmth, charm and business acumen, for always nurturing new talent at both the wholesale and retail levels, for inspiring so many people in our industry, and for being forever real,” said Alberg Grossman.

MR presented the annual awards on July 23 at the Four Seasons in New York.

“Orange County is already known as the hub of surf-inspired fashion, and can now be recognized at the forefront of innovative and trend-setting designer fashion,” said Keith Eyrich, President of The Irvine Company Retail Properties, which owns Fashion Island. “This is an unprecedented honor to have three award-winning retailers at the same center, and we are proud to have brought them to Orange County shoppers.”

Fashion Island, owned by The Irvine Company, is Southern California’s premier outdoor retail center, offering a unique experience for shopping, dining and entertainment. Reminiscent of a Mediterranean village, Fashion Island has nearly 200 unique boutiques, award-winning restaurants and Orange County’s only Neiman Marcus, Kate Spade and Juicy Couture, as well as Bloomingdale’s, Bloomingdale’s Home Store and Macy’s. The center also includes seven movie theatres, a Venetian-themed carousel, and hosts signature events throughout the year. For more information visit