During a career that spanned 41 years, Mr. Traub transformed Bloomingdale’s from a staid department store into a prestigious retailer that launched the careers of such leading designers as Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren and Donna Karan.
During the 1970s and 1980s, Mr. Traub also brought show business to retailing, hosting productions and special merchandise assortments that honored various countries, including India and China, according to New York-based retail consultant Walter Loeb.
“He was a showman,” Loeb said. “He understood that theater is what made Bloomingdale’s a very special place to shop. Whether it was country-tied events or bringing fashion designers in contact with shoppers for the first time, it was all about the excitement.”
He helped turn the phrase “like no other store in the world” into the slogan and a marching order for Bloomingdale’s and turned its flagship store, at Lexington Avenue and 59th Street in Manhattan, into a showcase.
Under Mr. Traub’s stewardship, Bloomingdale’s cultivated a loyal following among such celebrities as former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy. In 1976, Mr. Traub escorted Queen Elizabeth II through the Midtown store.
“Marvin Traub has been part of my life for over 45 years. His support and loyalty extended way beyond my professional life,” Lauren said in a statement. “When I opened our store on Madison Avenue and 72nd Street, Marvin was my first customer.”
Mr. Traub started his retailing career in the Midtown Bloomingdale’s bargain basement, and quickly rose through the ranks. He became executive vice president in charge of merchandising and sales promotions at age 37 in 1962. By 1969, he was president, and he was named chairman and chief executive in 1978.
Mr. Traub retired from Bloomingdale’s in 1991, and a year later, he started a consulting business, which counted such clients as Lauren, Jones Apparel Group, Saks Fifth Avenue and Al Tayer, a privately held company based in Dubai.
Working with Al Tayer, Mr. Traub was involved in helping Bloomingdale’s open its first store in Dubai in 2009.
Marvin Stuart Traub was born April 14, 1925, in New York City. His father, Sam, was vice president of a corset company; his mother, Bea, was a saleswoman at Bonwit Teller in New York, according to a 1980 People magazine profile.
Mr. Traub was a 1947 graduate of Harvard University, and he received a master’s degree in business from Harvard in 1949.
Survivors include his wife, the former Lee Laufer; three children; and four grandchildren.
— From news services