Tag Archives: Toronto

Jew of the Week: Joe Mimran

The Brand Master

Joe Mimran (Credit: The Globe and Mail)

Joe Mimran (Credit: The Globe and Mail)

Joseph Mimran (b. 1952) was born in Casablanca, Morocco to an observant Jewish family, and grew up in Toronto, Canada. As a young man, he worked a number of odd jobs before opening his own art gallery while a student at York University. He finished his studies at the University of Windsor and became an accountant. After a couple of years, Mimran’s fashion designer mother inspired him to enter her field. He joined his mother and brother to set up a family fashion business called Ms. Originals. In 1979, the brothers hired a young Chinese-Canadian, Alfred Sung, to design their clothes, and the line was an instant hit. (Alfred Sung would later be hailed as “The New King of Fashion”). In the mid-80s, Mimran was once shopping for a simple white shirt but could not find one. He resolved to make his own, and started a new brand, Club Monaco, focused on simple, minimalist designs. By 1999, Club Monaco had 125 stores around the world, including one on Fifth Avenue in New York, and was bought out by Ralph Lauren. In 2004, Mimran started working on a new line to be sold exclusively at Loblaw’s supermarkets, giving rise to the Joe Fresh brand. The brand became so popular that in 2010, independent Joe Fresh stores began popping up. Mimran also founded the “Pink Tartan” label with his wife, and designed lines for President’s Choice and Holt Renfrew. He is currently the chair of the Fashion Design Council of Canada. Aside from fashion, Mimran is a noted philanthropist, supporting the Reena Foundation (which assists people with autism and disabilities), and Toronto’s East General Hospital, among others. Recently, Mimran joined the panel of Canada’s version of Dragon’s Den, the popular TV show where entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to venture capitalists. Mimran is recognized as a pioneer in modern fashion, and has been called a “human calculator”, and a “brand master”.

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Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility.
– Sigmund Freud

Jew of the Week: Frank Gehry

“The Most Important Architect of Our Age”

gehryFrank Owen Ephraim Goldberg (b. 1929) was born in Toronto, the son of a Russian-Jewish father from New York, and a Polish-Jewish mother. As a child, he enjoyed constructing model buildings and cities with his grandmother, using scraps from his grandfather’s hardware store. After he finished high school, the family moved to California and he soon enrolled in architecture studies. It was there, because of ceaseless anti-Semitism, that he changed his last name to “Gehry”. Meanwhile, he worked as a truck driver, radio announcer, and served in the US Army before going to Harvard for graduate studies in design. Gehry got an architecture job back in Los Angeles and started wowing people with his unique designs. After a stint in Paris, he opened up his own practice. In 1989, he won the Pritzker Architecture Prize, bringing him even more fame. His Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain was described as “the greatest building of our time”. It inspired what is now called the Bilbao Effect – a “revitalization of cities through iconic, innovative architecture.” Since then, Gehry has become the world’s most influential and well-known architect, and is regularly involved with some of the most high profile projects around the globe. In addition to lecturing as Professor of Architecture at the University of Southern California, Gehry also designs museum sets and exhibitions, furniture, sculptures, and has created six lines of jewellery for Tiffany & Co. He also designed the World Cup of Hockey, and developed new architectural software. Gehry has won countless awards, including the Order of Canada, and last week received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Sydney Pollack made a documentary about Gehry’s work, and Vanity Fair described him as “the most important architect of our age.”

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Words of the Week

I never wanted to be the next Bruce Lee. I just wanted to be the first Jackie Chan.
– Jackie Chan

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