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The Real Peter Nygard

The Clifton Review  


The Clifton Review is a tri-weekly column that examines the question of the Clifton project along with the evolution of the war between two billionaires. We covered the start of this war with articles describing the battle over easement rights, the mysterious burning of a home, the blocks to rebuilding, and countless questionable court filings.

While the 2018 series salutes fashion mogul Peter Nygård’s Golden Jubilee detailing his rags to riches story, his incredible business success over these past fifty years and an inside look at how he did it, The Clifton Review will also continue to address current affairs as they relate to the good of The Bahamas 



The Real Peter Nygard

By P.J. Malone 


“Who is the real Nygard?”


This was the title of a 1987 article in The Globe and Mailwritten by Marina Sturdza that presents interesting insights into fashion mogul Peter Nygard that proves instructive in our quest to understand Nygard’s business success.


Sturdza’s discussion ranges from views of his flamboyant personality, Nygard as a Free Trader and industry leader, Nygard the perfectionist, and his business savvy and impressive growth record. Here are excerpts from her perspective:


Will the real Peter Nygard please stand up?

There’s Peter Nygard the proverbial immigrant boy-made-good, who in 20 years has parlayed an $800,000 dress business into a near-$200-million clothing empire, largely by tapping the lucrative mature mass market, and delivering an excellent value/price ratio with just enough fashion content to appeal, yet not intimidate.

There’s Peter Nygard the flamboyant, given to Felliniesque extravaganzas, who rented a herd of camels to launch his U.S. headquarters in Marina del Rey, Calif., in suitable Oriental potentate style, and who recently opened his 8.5-million (and then some) Canadian headquarters with a four-day series of lavish gala receptions, the better to impress le tout Toronto, and his industry and show-biz cronies from the United States and overseas.

There’s Nygard the Canadian apparel industry leader, a business visionary, man of the eighties and nineties.

There’s Nygard the outspoken advocate of free trade, who criticizes his apparel industry peers for their apathy and short-sightedness, especially in view of the highly organized and vociferous textile sector lobby.

In Nygard’s view, Canada should de-emphasize domestic fabric production (arguably uncompetitive and unprofitable) in favor of encouraging and developing a competitive apparel industry. He believes that the current array of protective tariffs and quotas is a costly exercise in futility, for which the Canadian consumer pays a heavy penalty.

Says Nygard: “Canadian manufacturing capability is excellent, while we can never be really competitive with low-price fabric imports, so let’s open the market to the low-cost fabrics that would allow the manufacturing sector a genuine chance to grow. Our strength is in design, manufacturing and marketing. The existing government policy has too long been dictated by the fabric industry to protect only its own interest, and is unfairly restrictive on the rest of the fashion sector.”

There’s Nygard the perfectionist, who before launching his denim division, examined no fewer than 60 products, checking every detail, counting belt loops, pockets and the number of stiches per inch, measuring waist bands and checking logo positions.

Nygard’s own denim product was submitted to every conceivable wear and performance test, until it met his demands. Even so, he ordered the production line stopped, when he zeroed in on a minor offending detail—and expensive three-week delay that cost the company thousands of dollars.

These are just some of the insights that Sturdza shared on Peter Nygard that is so telling of why he has been able to achieve the level of success he has. Though this is a look from more than 30 years ago, clearly Nygard continued doing the things that was making him successful back then to be where he is today.

Consider this part I of Sturdza’s presentation on Peter Nygard. We will continue to share her insights in part II.


Written by Jones Bahamas

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