Alan J. Lebow, a third-generation men’s wear veteran and owner of the Lebow Clothes tailored clothing brand, died on Feb. 23 of a heart attack at his home in Palm Beach, Fla. He was 81.
This story first appeared in the March 3, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Over 500 people attended his burial services at Temple Emanu-El in Palm Beach on Friday. “He spent his entire life in the men’s clothing industry,” recalled his wife Patricia Lebow, an attorney. “He was the consummate men’s clothing salesman.”
Lebow was best known for running the high-end Alan Lebow and Lebow Clothes labels while they were licensed to Hartz & Co. from 1986 to 2006. When Hartz & Co. went out of business three years ago, Lebow licensed the brands to Bremen, Ga.-based Sewell Clothes, a division of The Sewell Cos. According to a sales manager there, the company plans to continue manufacturing suits under the Lebow name.
Lebow’s grandfather, Abraham, was a garment maker whose son, Joseph, founded Lebow Clothes in the early 1900s and built it into a major men’s wear manufacturer. At its peak in the Fifties and Sixties, Lebow Clothes employed several thousand workers and sold its suits to the many independent men’s specialty stores that flourished during that era.
Alan Lebow got his start in his father’s business at the age of eight, sweeping fabric remnants from the company’s Baltimore factory floor. After studying at Pennsylvania Military Academy (now Widener University) and the Philadelphia College of Textiles, he was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1945 and served in Germany. At the close of World War II, he joined Lebow Clothes, where he spent his entire career.
In 1969, Lebow Clothes was sold to After Six. When the formalwear company went through a bankruptcy, the rights to the brand were acquired by Abraham Zion. However, Zion let the trademark lapse and Lebow regained control of the family brand in the Eighties and licensed it to Hartz & Co, which created a luxury suit and sportcoat collection sold to prominent men’s retailers like Guffy’s in Atlanta and James Davis in Memphis.
“Alan was a born-and-bred clothing guy from the old school,” said John Carroll, owner of the three upscale Carroll & Co. stores in Beverly Hills, Pasadena and Montecito, Calif., which did business with Lebow during the Hartz & Co. days. “I don’t ever remember a day when he wasn’t in a suit. He loved the product and understood clothing better than most.”
Apart from his wife, Lebow is survived by a daughter, Amanda.