Bob Kutner, one of the best-known womenswear agents in Scotland in the post-war period, died on March 9. He was 91.
Born in Chemnitz, eastern Germany, Kutner arrived in the UK in 1939, aged 15, having fled from Nazi Germany via Fascist Italy and France. His recently bereaved mother joined him soon afterwards.
After serving in the British Army during World War Two, Kutner formed a manufacturers’ agency in Glasgow in 1949. An encounter with a manufacturer at a wedding led him to start selling “house coats” – today’s bathrobes – to shops all over Scotland.
Hard work and determination brought relative success that enabled Kutner to establish his own showroom on Glasgow’s Queen Street in the late 1950s, where he was regarded as something of a pioneer. Known for his great sense of personal style and good looks, he cultivated the organisation until, in the mid-1970s, he ended up presiding over an impressive showroom known as ‘Kutner’s Football Park’.
In the years before the homogenisation of Scotland’s department stores, a typical afternoon would be spent wandering, diary in hand, from McDonald’s to Arnott-Simpson in Argyle Street and on to Pettigrew & Stephens and Copland & Lye in Sauchiehall Street. The diary would be filled up with next week’s appointments.
From the end of the 1960s, Bob, working with his wife Barbara, was to control one of the largest women’s fashion agencies in the country, representing major brands of the time such as Feminella, Carnegie Dresses, Kadix and McCaul Knitwear.
He retired in 1994 and in his later years spoke to organisations all over Scotland about his escape from Europe before World War Two began.
Kutner was extremely proud that both his children, Lesley and Tony, followed him into the trade. Lesley is well-known as a handbag and accessories agent in Scotland. Tony, a menswear agent based in Shoreditch, London, revealed to Drapers last year that he had his showroom address officially restyled as Kutner Close in honour of his father.
As well as his children, Bob Kutner is survived by Barbara, his wife of almost 62 years.