Friday, July 18, 2008

Vale Mark Keighery

I was saddened to learn of the death of MARCS founder Mark Keighery, who passed away last night at Sydney’s Royal Prince Alfred Hospital at age 53, following an almost decade-long battle with cancer.

I didn’t know Keighery well, but I had certainly interviewed him on more than one occasion over the years. He seemed like a really nice guy. He was, without doubt, one of the pioneers of the modern Australian sportswear industry.

Keighery launched his company in 1979 at the age of 24, importing international fashion labels.

The stable would eventually embrace blue chip brands such as Yohji Yamamoto, Issey Miyake, John Smedley, John Richmond, Dries Van Noten and of course Diesel, which Keighery helped build into a streetwear powerhouse in this market.

But it was Keighery's own label which made the biggest mark on Australian fashion.

It was launched with the simple idea of man’s shirt made from non-traditional men’s shirt materials: women’s dress fabrics. And the idea provided the foundation for a mens and womens sportswear retail business with estimated sales of A$45-57million in 2002, at the time he sold the MARCS component for a reported A$22million in order to concentrate on his health.

The MARCS shingle hangs today over 38 Australian boutiques, a combination of standalones and stores-within-stores within both David Jones and Myer.

He is survived by his wife Lisa and sons Jack and Harry.


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