One of the longest-serving executives of Pepe Jeans London, Charles Eisenhour, died in Los Angeles on January 28. He was 66. He had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer only a few days before.
American-born Eisenhour had worked for Timberland and Wrangler before joining Pepe in 1987 to look after the British jeanswear brand’s burgeoning European sales. He retired from Pepe in 2013, being one of the few executives who stayed with the company from its original ownership to it being controlled by Spanish entrepreneur Carlos Ortega. (Drapers is expecting confirmation of a new owner for Pepe imminently.)
Nitin Shah, who set up Pepe with his brothers Arun and Milan in 1973, told Drapers: “Charles joined us in the late 1980s just as we started expanding in Europe. He was a great guy, very loyal to Pepe over all those years until his retirement. He was in the inner circle of the old Pepe team that included Miles Gray, Mukesh Desai, John Miln, Raoul Shah and Mark Blenkinsop. We would all meet regularly in London for a curry.”
Raoul Shah, chief executive of London-based marketing agency Exposure, who started his career with the Pepe group, added: “Charles was close to many in the industry for many, many years and we will truly miss him. The suddenness of his parting has been a complete shock. He was such a generous, kind and loving man. He lived life to the full. We will all raise a very full glass to him.”
Former Ben Sherman chief executive Miles Gray, who ran Pepe in Germany for several years from the late 1980s, recalled: “Charles and I joined Pepe on the same day in 1987. He was the perfect gentleman who we all called The Dude as he was always so laid back. He led something of a gypsy lifestyle with Pepe as he looked after all the European distributors from Norway to Spain even though he lived in the south of France. We will all remember him as a really lovely man.”
Drapers editorial director Eric Musgrave remembered: “At Bread & Butter in the summer of 2013 Charles told me he was retiring soon and was looking forward to roaming around America with his wife. I am glad he had at least a year and a bit of retirement. I had known him since my days with Sportswear International in the late 1980s and he was always a great source of knowledge and insight about what was going on in the jeanswear sector across Europe. Charles had many, many friends who will be saddened by this shock news.”
Eisenhour leaves his Norwegian wife Inger and grown-up daughter Britt and son Mackenzie. In a message to Mackenzie after he had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, Eisenhour wrote: “Please don’t dwell on the bad. I lived life and have been so lucky in every aspect. You all played a part in my joy. I am fine with this. I will go with the flow. Tomorrow. Much love forever. Charles.”
His funeral has taken place in the US. Eisenhour’s friends are planning a memorial in London in the spring.