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Dynamic Duo

Anh-Minh Le | September 19, 2018 | Lifestyle Style & Beauty Story Shopping Style National

Sam Malouf has been a fixture of the Peninsula’s fashion scene since arriving in 1991 from Lubbock, Texas, to open a Burlingame branch of his family’s shop, Malouf’s. The interior evoked “an Old English hunting lodge with animal heads on the walls, dark wood, everything covered in red felt, red carpet and Stewart plaid,” he recalls. When it closed in 2009, Sam and his wife, Gloria, pursued their own retail vision with Sam Malouf Authentic Luxury, just down the street. While the quality of the merchandise and level of customer service has carried over, the second venue is brighter, with an orange door and striped awnings to signal the chic experience awaiting inside.

When it debuted in 2010, the store offered only menswear. Once the Maloufs’ three daughters were older, Gloria became more involved and added a women’s department. An expansion this year made way for another 1,500 square feet of womenswear, now 40 percent of the sales. The shop carries covetable labels such as Kiton, Ermenegildo Zegna and Lanvin for men, and Veronica Beard, ChloĆ© and Jason Wu for women; Brunello Cucinelli is popular with both. “What distinguishes one store from another is its ability to choose the best from those brands,” says Sam. “You develop an eye for the nuances of color, pattern, shape and fit—what makes it unique and what makes it common. ... You have to be able to risk and buy beyond the basics in order to have a well-curated store.”

Sam grew up in the industry, while Gloria’s early fashion memories revolve around her collection of Vogue magazines, Neiman Marcus catalogs and her seamstress grandmother. “I spent my childhood at Britex picking fabric and watching her cut patterns and sew,” she recounts. “Often times, we couldn’t afford the fancy dresses, so she would go with me to Stanford or I. Magnin and see what I liked and copy it.” In addition to an affinity for fashion, the couple shares a Lebanese heritage: They met 22 years ago at a Lebanese American Association fundraiser for hospitals in Lebanon.

Given that history, it’s no surprise they are a philanthropic force today, contributing to local charities. This spring, they brought in Mary Katrantzou to co-chair a PARCA fashion show and luncheon, then hosted a private brunch with the London-based designer that raised $10,000 for the nonprofit. They are planning a private dinner and trunk show with Prabal Gurung this fall to benefit LymeLight, and other events with Brunello Cucinelli and Adam Lippes.

Relationships are a priority for the couple. On trips to New York and Paris, most of Gloria’s buys are done in individual designer showrooms. “I always like to meet with the designer or director and review past selling performance and opportunities for upcoming charity events or luncheons that we can both support and showcase their brand,” she says. Travel aside, the most rewarding part of her job is right here at home, she says. “I love educating [clients] about the designers, their sensibility and wardrobing them for years.” 1460 Burlingame Ave.

Originally published in the September issue of Silicon Valley

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