By  on July 16, 2007

NEW YORK — It is tempting, from a narrative standpoint, to pretend Steven Alan’s success all stemmed from a shirt. After all, the signature sport shirt, with its rumpled preppiness and subtly tweaked construction, is the powerhouse of the four Steven Alan boutiques, the brand extension into many subsequent categories—including pants, boxers, outerwear, cashmere sweaters, ties, women’s wear and children’s wear—and a wholesale operation serving almost 400 stores worldwide.

As the label surges toward bona-fide lifestyle brandhood, it is launching suits for spring 2008. The single-breasted jacket and flat-front trouser combos come in washed wool or broken twill, and capture the same spirit of perfect dishevelment as the Steven Alan shirt.

Also debuting for spring are a yarn-dyed oxford shirting program and a baby-soft, striped henley made of a newly developed jersey fabric.

The famous shirt, which retails for about $168, is going stronger than ever—even heading to Milan’s 10 Corso Como this spring. Tucked side seams and twisting plackets are the sort of details that the uninitiated wouldn’t immediately notice, but that the growing club of customers and aficionados use to recognize each other in crowds.

For the record, the shirt was not the seed, but an offshoot, of Alan’s original, multibrand boutique. His basic entrepreneurialism and eye for emerging labels spawned both the boutique and the SAS Showroom, and Alan’s ability to think like a retailer is undoubtedly one of the keys to his prosperity.

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