Allen Schwartz Expands

The Los Angeles designer is launching two new contemporary lines and a string of licenses for men’s wear.

LOS ANGELES — Allen Schwartz, the Los Angeles designer known for reinterpreting red-carpet gowns for budget-conscious women, is expanding his fashion business with two new contemporary lines and a string of licenses for men’s wear.

This story first appeared in the March 10, 2011 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Schwartz, the founder of A.B.S. by Allen Schwartz, who also sells a lower-priced line called Allen B. under license at J.C. Penney, this spring introduced two new contemporary lines that both retail for under $200. Privé is a line of day, cocktail and bridesmaid dresses, and Blue Pearl is a new label replacing A.B.S. Sportswear with trousers, skirts, blouses and other separates. Projected to boost the company’s revenue by 30 percent this year, the two divisions represent Schwartz’s attempt to reinvigorate a struggling retail market that has grappled with sharp competitive pricing and selective shoppers.

“The sportswear business shifted,” Schwartz said. “It became very item-driven. [The customer has] bypassed the huge, what I call ‘freight-train’ collections. She’s looking to add on what she already has.”

Blue Pearl touches upon avant-garde androgyny but also evokes romantic Bohemianism. Pieces include indigo knit tops with bat wing sleeves made of chiffon, palazzo pants and printed silk peasant blouses. Wholesale prices range from $39 to $89, and Schwartz aims to hit $6 million to $8 million in first-year sales with specialty retailers.

Privé is designed to offer opening price points for customers who might not be able to afford A.B.S. by Allen Schwartz. Wholesaling for between $59 and $89, Privé offers lower-priced adaptations of A.B.S. designs, including ombré silk charmeuse frocks with draped cowl necks and Nineties-style woven dresses. With Privé, which has been picked up by Nordstrom and Lord & Taylor, Schwartz hopes to generate $4 million to $6 million in sales in the first year.

Looking ahead to fall, A.B.S. will make an aggressive push into men’s wear via a slew of licenses after stopping the in-house production of men’s denim and shirts. Schwartz inked a deal with New York’s Roffe Accessories Inc. to make neckwear and dress, sport and tuxedo shirts.

“What starts in women’s, from color to twists and turns, is always reflected a year later in men’s,” Schwartz said. “Men, more than ever, are into clothing. Men are becoming dapper.”