Services were held Tuesday afternoon at the Riverside Gordon Memorial Chapel in Miami for Allan Zwerner, a long-time men’s merchant for Federated Department Stores, Perry Ellis and Tommy Hilfiger. Zwerner, 68, died Saturday at his home in South Miami, Fla., after a 6 ½-year battle with cancer, according to his wife Renee.
This story first appeared in the October 31, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Zwerner, known as “Z,” spent 14 years at Burdines Department Stores in Miami as senior vice president and general merchandise manager of men’s and children’s before joining Macy’s Product Development organization in 1996 as senior vice president of product development for men’s and children’s. In 1999, he joined Perry Ellis International as president of licensing, a position he held for three years until joining Tommy Hilfiger in 2003 as president of the company’s U.S. wholesale division and president of men’s and women’s for Tommy Hilfiger USA. He also operated his own consulting firm, A to Z Advisory, and most recently, was a recruiter for Debra Malbin Associates, an executive search firm.
According to his biography on the Debra Malbin Web site, Zwerner was a key player in the turnaround of the Hilfiger men’s division and also spent some time at J. Crew Retail before joining Perry Ellis. He is credited with overseeing Burdines’ $3.5 billion men’s and children’s business and helping to build the largest volume men’s collection sportswear business in the country during his time there.
David Scheiner, the former vice chairman and director of stores for Macy’s Florida, said Zwerner was “my closest friend in the world.” He said Zwerner’s “integrity, honesty and compassion for his people, coupled with his passion for his craft were hard to beat. He loved merchandising and shared his knowledge through leading by example with colleagues, mentees and students alike. Allan believed that to be successful as a merchant and a manager, one must emphasize the five ‘Ps': people, product, planning, presentation, and promotion. He further advised that merchants stay focused, be open to new ideas, and execute.”
Howard Socol, former chief executive officer of Burdines, J. Crew and Barneys New York, said: “Allan was an outstanding merchant and businessman. He loved finding new designers and building their business. He could spot trends and maximize their sales. He loved the retail business and was great at it. Allan was a role model in business and as a person. The legacy he leaves is his dedication to training, developing and mentoring all those who worked for him.”
In addition to his wife of 45 years, Zwerner is survived by his son Brian, his daughter Michelle and four grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center or the YMA -Fashion Scholarship Fund.