NEW YORK — For 63 years, the Sewell family’s two clothing companies competed with each other for space in specialty retailers and bragging rights at family gatherings, but come February, the Sewell Clothing Co. and Warren Sewell—which have operated for decades within 100 yards of each other in the small town of Bremen, Ga.—will merge.
The Sewell Clothing Co. was founded by Roy Sewell in 1918, but, in 1945, Roy’s brother Warren left to start his own company, Warren Sewell, setting up shop just across the railroad tracks and entering into what family members call long-term friendly competition with his brother. Both made better suits and sport coats for independent retailers, and family legend has it that, ever since, retailers have been hopelessly confused about exactly which Sewell sold what.
“I can’t blame the retailers,” said Robin Sewell Worley, grandson of Warren Sewell and soon-to-be CEO of the merged businesses, to be called The Sewell Cos. “Our family is so big we can barely keep each other straight at reunions.”
Under terms of the deal, Warren Sewell will acquire only the tailored clothing division of Sewell Clothing. The latter’s factory and military business—it makes officers’ uniforms for the U.S. armed forces—will continue under the ownership of Rick Loftin, who purchased Sewell Clothing from the founding family five years ago. Worley said The Sewell Cos.’ suits and sport coats will still be made at the Sewell factory under contract.
Financial terms were not released.
Sentiment aside, Worley, the last Sewell in the family business, said the realities of the apparel industry are motivating the acquisition. “In my granddaddy’s day there was enough business for everyone—even two businesses down the street from each other.” At one point, Roy Sewell’s factory employed 1,500 workers, but today, retail consolidation and price pressure from foreign manufacturers have put the squeeze on the traditional men’s stores and the vendors that sell them. “Either you get smaller and go out of business or match up strengths and survive,” he said.
Worley said Sewell Clothing and Warren Sewell’s brands are complementary. Sewell, which markets the Christian Brooks and South Hampton brands, is made in America and retails between $300 and $500 per suit. Warren Sewell, which owns the Zino, Lacrosse and Cotton Brothers brands, is made overseas and sells between $250 and $400 per suit. “When we looked at the accounts, we were surprised to see how little overlap there was.” The companies sell upward of 1,000 doors between them.
According to Worley, the Warren Sewell staff will cross the railroad tracks and move into the building that houses the Sewell Cos. in January, though they will operate on different floors. “Bringing it under the family name is a romantic notion,” Worley said, “but it’s really about the business. You should see the overhead we removed.”
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews