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Allen Keeps it Simple

DALLAS -- Minimalist styles are the hallmark of a newcomer to this city's fashion scene, a 29-year-old Little Rock native who produces crisp, no-fuss sportswear and dresses. "I don't think about my clothes after I put them on, and I don't want my...

DALLAS — Minimalist styles are the hallmark of a newcomer to this city’s fashion scene, a 29-year-old Little Rock native who produces crisp, no-fuss sportswear and dresses. “I don’t think about my clothes after I put them on, and I don’t want my customers to, either,” said Edward Allen. “If you have to fiddle with your dress, then I have not done my job.”

Allen started with a spring 1992 collection of eight white cotton broadcloth shirts, which drew $9,000 in orders from such fashion emporiums as The Gazebo and Stanley Korshak.

Cynthia Joiner Denton, sportswear buyer at Stanley Korshak, said Allen’s white shirts did so well last year that she reordered them, and she plans to test his new spring pieces as well. “I think he’s a promising new designer. He has a very simple look that we sell so well.”

Allen skipped fall to organize his finances — he now has a letter of credit from an Arkansas bank that can be applied against orders to manufacture goods. He reentered the business in October with a 30-piece spring collection composed of straightforward separates, like linen T-shirts and palazzo pants, in a palette of solid white, natural, red and black. Tailored silhouettes also were included, such as a sleeveless jacket with a fitted waist and slight flare over the hips and a short dress with a long, slit overskirt.

For the 20-piece transition collection to be shown this month, Allen will return to his roots with a group of white cotton broadcloth shirts. He’s also building his repertoire with a group of jackets, pants and dresses in white pima cotton sateen and voile stripe and silk wool twill colored in slate pastels. Wholesale prices span from $50 to $200.

Allen keeps after his local contractors to produce a high quality product, insisting on such details as surged and top-stitched seams. “I like things very clean and unembellished,” he noted, citing Michael Kors and Mark Eisen as inspirations. “It’s not the moderate customer who likes what I do.”

His business is still in a fledgling stage, supported by money from his family. Allen shares a showroom in room 2F46 of the International Apparel Mart here with Larry Lott, another young sportswear designer. Allen earned a bachelor’s degree in fashion design from the University of North Texas in 1987 and worked briefly as a design assistant for Victor Costa.

Allen also has made some custom clothing for Kim Dawson, the model agent, for the past five years, and done styling. “He does something with a little bit of difference that is so charming,” Dawson said. “He’s a very talented young man.”