Appeared In
Special Issue
Men'sWeek issue 05/24/2012

Andrew Fezza was a household name within the men’s industry in the Eighties and Nineties. And if Ronny Wurtzburger has his way, he soon will be again.

This story first appeared in the May 24, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Next spring, Wurtzburger, the president of Peerless International, will relaunch Fez, a collection of tailored clothing targeted to the twentysomething customer.

“We are taking over the Andrew Fezza label,” Wurtzburger told WWD. “We’re changing what it was and it’s becoming a young, hip line.” The collection of slim-fit suits, separates and sport coats will be “very directional” and retailed at “very advantageous prices,” he said. For example, suits will retail for “substantially under $200, with good margin.”

He said the plan is to offer the collection to midtier department stores and specialty retailers. “We had a void in our platform and Fez adds another dimension.” The Andrew Fezza collection came to Peerless as a result of a “strategic alliance” the company made with George Weintraub & Sons in spring 2011. Weintraub, a significant player in the outerwear business, holds the license for Andrew Fezza clothing and outerwear. “It has been in the market, but not like it will be now,” Wurtzburger said.

He said Fez will be marketed through a “strong ad budget” to introduce the label to the target customer, an 18- to 35-year-old guy who likes fashion. “This is a kid who wears a size 40 jacket and a 30-31 pant,” he said. “He’s 6 foot, 1 inch and 137 pounds and he wants suit pants that will fit like jeans with suppression around the waist. We see a void in the market for a garment with this fit.”

The product will be designed by Fezza, a Coty and Cutty Sark award winner, and the team at Peerless and will offer mostly linens, cottons and poly viscose blends for spring. Wurtzburger said Peerless is talking to potential licensees to extend Fez into other product categories.

At the same time, Peerless is looking to expand the offerings under its Tallia Orange label. This will include socks, underwear, small leather goods and shoes, and the company is also considering offering women’s wear, Wurtzburger said. “We would do it ourselves or find a major partner,” he said.

Tallia Orange is the first branded label to be offered by the $500 million tailored clothing powerhouse, which produces suits and related products for brands ranging from Calvin Klein and DKNY to Ralph Lauren. It was introduced three years ago and is sold at Macy’s, Dillard’s, Belk, Lord & Taylor, The Bay and Bon-Ton.

“Our business has been growing close to 30 percent a season for four consecutive seasons,” he said. He said the collection, which is rooted in color and offers unique patterns and details, started off “fair” but has taken off over the past two years. “We toned it down and it’s not as bold,” Wurtzburger said. “And it started to sell like wildfire.” Wurtzburger said Peerless is also looking to update its outerwear offerings and has named Jeff Weintraub, owner of George Weintraub & Sons, president of the division. “He will help us expand and offer more updated fashion in terms of model and color,” Wurtzburger said.

He said the outerwear selling will be handled by the Peerless team and there will be no changes in price or distribution.

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