It is with a heavy heart that I write this week’s comment following the news that industry veteran Don McCarthy has died. My thoughts go to all of his family and friends at this sad time.
Since joining Drapers more than 13 years ago I have met many inspiring individuals working across all sectors of the industry and Don was up there with the best of them.
A memory that comes to mind is from when I became Drapers editor in November 2015. Just three weeks into the job, I had to stand in front of 800 individuals from the fashion industry to host the Drapers Awards, following in the very large shoes of Mr Eric Musgrave. That evening, I was sat next to Don and, sensing my apprehension, he was the perfect companion, reassuring and encouraging me before my speech and having a large glass of wine ready for when I had finished.
He provided me with much counsel over the years and many have highlighted his incredible generosity, not only with the charities he supported but also with his time.
Don was passionate about the industry and equally about the people that work within it. I have met countless individuals who praise his support and advice over the years as he was always ready to lend an ear and offer some pearls of wisdom from his prestigious time in the industry.
Don also showed his support for motivating and inspiring the next generation. When collecting the Drapers Footwear Awards Lifetime Achievement award in 2015 he urged the audience: “When you get to the top of your career, send the lift back down for someone else.”
The number of comments we have received at Drapers following the publishing of his obituary indicates the vast spectrum of people he had an impact on with phrases such as “retail genius”, “legend” and “gentleman” used to describe him.
It’s poignant now to read the interview from last year’s Drapers 130th celebration book between Don and his friend and CEO of Oasis and Warehouse, Liz Evans, where he shared many happy memories from his time in the industry and said in the final line “If it was all to end tonight, I’ve had a good ride.”
Don McCarthy was an inspiration, an industry legend, a mentor and a gentleman. Thank you for everything Don and, on behalf of myself and so many others, you will really be missed.