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Give ’em what they need. It’s as simple as that, and it’s a fashion m.o. that’s served Ellen Tracy well over the years. Designer Linda Allard, who’s celebrating her 40th anniversary as designer, isn’t concerned so much with being on the cutting edge of fashion as she is with giving her customers smart, sophisticated clothes that are, above all else, very wearable.

This story first appeared in the October 23, 2002 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Before Allard started in 1962, the company was a junior brand known for its blouses — flirty and very girly. But by the mid-Seventies, the Ellen Tracy customer was no longer a teenager, and as she grew up, so did Allard and the line. In the early Eighties, Allard shifted the collection into the bridge category, geared toward the new working woman. This meant sophisticated, well-tailored business suits in high-quality fabrics and lots of color — elements she has always championed. But Allard wasn’t just focused on the nine-to-five set. She expanded the collection to address all aspects of a busy woman’s life, with little black dresses for cocktail parties and an extensive range of casual looks for weekends in the country. Twenty years later, all this has translated into a loyal fan base of stylish women who enjoy fashion without becoming its slaves.

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