There are a number of Woodbury Commons stores and each one has a fascinating story to tell. Occasionally we’ll dive a little deeper into the story of one store at the premium outlet mall and today we are looking at Perry Ellis – Behind the Curtains.
The History of Fashion Icon Perry Ellis
Perry Ellis was a modern fashion icon that founded a sportswear house in the 1970s. He passed away in 1986, and he was born in 1950 in Virginia. He is still remembered today, even over 25 years after he has left this earth.
Early Life and Education
Ellis came from a middle-class family who owned a coil and oil company. He was the only child born to Edwin and Winifred Rountree Ellis, and he went to Woodrow High School in Portsmouth, Virginia.
He graduated from Woodrow in 1957 and then went on to study business administration at College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. Perry Ellis later enlisted in the Coast Guard. Six months later enrolled at New York University where he received a master’s degree in retailing, and graduated in 1963.
His Retail and Fashion Career
His first retail job was at the Miller & Rhoads store in Richmond, Virginia. Here is where he first gained experience in the fashion industry as a buyer and merchandiser.
Perry Ellis then later co-founded A Sunny Day, which was a shop that also opened up in the Richmond area. He later partnered up with the sportswear company John Meyer.
He himself did not sketch his designs. However, he worked together with drawers to create a very steamlined yet casual line of spots clothing that was well-received by women everywhere
In 1978, Perry Ellis International was opened on Seventh Avenue. Some time after the opening of this showroom he then developed a menswear collection that was not traditional but still included modern classics.
He then expanded into the creation of shoes, accessories, furs, and fragrances. All of these bore his name on them as a brand.
Perry Ellis continued to be very influential in the fashion world until the 1980s when he died. His company also grew quite substantially, and by 1982 it employed more than 75 people.
Only two years before this great fashion icon passed away, he had a solid partnership with Levi Strauss lined up. He also revived some of his earlier lines of clothing that were sold under the label Portfolio.
Perry Ellis seemed like a light-hearted person even though he ended upon dying of AIDS in 1986. It was as if he enjoyed what he did as a career-as if it was his life. He is very well known for his trademark skip down the red carpet runway at the closing of his fashion shows.
By 1986 his wholesale revenues had reached $250 million. That is a huge rise in profits from the early 1980s, when his company already made a wholesale revenue of $60 million.
During his fashion career Perry Ellis also won a number of awards. Some of these include the Coty Awards (a total of eight between 1979 and 1984). He also received a CFDA fashion award in 1981. Recognitions were also given in his name after his death to encourage other emerging fashion designers.