In ten years customers won’t even realize Perry Ellis was a even a real person.
– Caroylyn Gotfried speaking on the future of Perry Ellis after the designer’s death in 1986
The beach was a popular campaign background used to communicate Ellis’ preference for the natural when it came to his licenses. Perry Ellis International was the branch that oversaw licensing and was ran by Ellis’ lover Laughlin Barker. This mode of business wasn’t a new idea but one wholeheartedly embraced by American designers — licensing out one’s name to a tie, shirting, coating, or shoe manufacturer and collecting a percentage of sales without having to run the actual business.
The problem with licenses is that without focused direction the product eventually becomes generic, gaining distinction (if any) from the name stitched on the label and not its actual design. Fairbrooke, a company specializing in outerwear, did both Calvin Klein and Perry Ellis’s coats. This becomes an issue when the product ranges begin to look the same and as Gottfried so elequently states, the market can no longer remember if a storied designer had even exisited.