Konheim and Miller have been one of the fashion industry’s longest-standing power couples, having worked together for more than 40 years. “He always said, ‘I’ve never had a bad day.’ He loved life and he loved his job.” Miller said. “He just always had this positive attitude. He just loved what he did. He loved the business.”
Anticipating that shopping malls were increasingly becoming places for teenagers to hang out, rather than shopping meccas, Konheim said in 1990, “I never wanted to be malls in the first place. Malls give me hives. They’re completely devoid of any personality.”
Konheim said as much in a 2016 interview with WWD executive editor Bridget Foley: “Sorry my answer got overdone, but I got very interested in your question and it’s early in the a.m. We are very passionate about the industry. We have made decisions based on our common sense that has conspired to keep us from growing out of control.”
Konheim and Miller were known to do things their way — taking risks and rarely conforming to the conventional wisdom or norms of Seventh Avenue. They opened their first store in the mid-Eighties when few other designers were doing so. They also refused to play along with the markdowns and chargeback mania that swept through department stores in the Nineties. In a 2007 interview with WWD, Konheim said, “When I think about the last 25 years, it’s not about how big we’ve become. It’s whether there’s anything the industry can learn about what we’ve done.”
More often than not, Konheim could be seen in his office on the telephone, maintaining relationships and staying on top of what was going on in the industry, Miller noted. Miller said Sunday, “He just loved the clothing business. He loved every minute of it.” Arriving at 8 a.m. every day and working until 7 p.m. in the company’s Seventh Avenue offices, Konheim “loved the business so much. He always said, ‘I’ve never had a bad day.’ He loved life and he loved his job.” Miller said. “He just had this positive attitude. He loved what he did and he loved the business.”
Miller first met Konheim in the late Seventies, after answering an ad for a designer at his company P.J. Walsh in WWD. “It was part of a big corporation. It wasn’t an independent company. After seven years, we left and opened up our own business in ’82.” Miller said. “We just always got along. I’m more low-key and he had a big personality. When he entered the room, he always took over the whole room. If he was at a dinner party, he took over the whole dinner party. He was just larger than life and everybody loved him. He made every day exciting.”
Following the death of his athletic environmentalist son, Konheim and his family gave a cache of money that Eric Konheim had stowed away to the Rocky Mountain Institute. The elder Konheim later worked with the RMI to create the Eric Konheim Memorial Fund and he continued supporting the organization through the years. His other philanthropic work included supporting “Puppies Behind Bars,” a group that works with prison inmates, who learn to train service dogs for combat veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.