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10 Minutes With ... Perry Ellis on the Future of the Brand

License Global speaks with Oscar Feldenkreis, chief executive officer and president, Perry Ellis International.

McKenna Morgan

October 27, 2023

5 Min Read
Oscar Feldenkreis, Perry Ellis International
Oscar FeldenkreisPerry Ellis International

Perry Ellis International is diving deeper into its licensing strategy in 2023 and beyond. License Global sat down with Oscar Feldenkreis, chief executive officer and president, Perry Ellis International, to discuss its latest collaborations and overall strategy for the brand’s future as it continues to grow.

License Global: What trends are you seeing in the fashion industry that professionals in the licensed consumer product space should know?

Oscar Feldenkreis: Licensing partners are looking for brands that have heritage, along with consumer trust, reliability and staying power. At Perry Ellis International, we are fortunate to have iconic brands, such as Perry Ellis, Original Penguin, Rafaella, Laundry by Shelli Segal and Gotcha, that all possess a rich, storied heritage rooted in American fashion. We still have a lot of opportunities within our current portfolio – our deeply rooted history in design, production and marketing allows us to form collaborative, strategic alliances with both our current and future partners.

Your latest partnerships include Concepts in Time, Bespoke Fashions, Peerless Clothing and ACI. What is your licensing strategy, and how do you choose partners?

The strong, clearly defined brand DNA of Perry Ellis, Original Penguin and our other leading PEI brands attract the upper echelon of licensing partners. 

Our licensing strategy revolves around finding those best-in-class partners within each product category, thereby strengthening the lifestyle elements and positioning of our brands. It’s important for us to work with partners who understand how to source properly while developing innovative products that will expand upon our overall brand lifestyle positioning. 

We prioritize collaborations with industry leaders who share our commitment to quality and craftsmanship. We meticulously assess each potential partner’s market influence, consumer understanding and ability to complement our existing product portfolio before initiating any collaborative endeavors.

You also landed your biggest sports partnership to date with NFL player, Tua Tagovailoa. Tell us about how this partnership came to be.

We’re very excited about our partnership with Tua Tagovailoa, who has quickly risen to be one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. Our research found that the Perry Ellis consumer loves sports in all its forms. Being based in Miami, we had unique access to some of the Dolphins players, including Tua. We wanted to feature a hometown hero as our brand ambassador.

Tua is the quintessential Perry Ellis man – a true gentleman who gives back to his community, is the best on the field, and understands the importance of being “Always Ready.” Tua personally loves the brand, so it was a very natural, organic pairing.

Overall, PEI has made a big investment in sports and continually lives within that space. With Original Penguin, a brand that was founded in 1955 and is rooted in leisure sports, we were able to organically introduce sports-centric brand extensions, which include Original Penguin Golf, Tennis, Pickleball and Paddle-Tennis. Today, we have a stable of world-class brand ambassadors, including professional golfers Cam Smith and Nico Echavarria, as well as tennis pros, Ajla Tomljanovic and Mackie McDonald. These players are a major component of our sports strategy as they strengthen our brand lifestyle approach for both men and women, as well as adding both authenticity and elevation to the overall brand.

Perry Ellis International wants to bring increased attention to some of its heritage brands, like Perry Ellis and Original Penguin. What does this mean to you, and how will you accomplish this?

We’re very proud of our success within licensing. Our journey began in 1999 when we acquired Perry Ellis, and since then, we have been building the business steadily, evolving our organization into a brand and licensing fashion house with a stable of 27 brands, over 200 retail stores worldwide, and 145 global licensed partners. The future is bright as we continue to expand domestically and internationally, all while remaining true to who we are – a family-run business that is wholly dedicated to the success of both the brands and our partners.

Perry Ellis and Original Penguin are both household names and iconic American brands. When bringing attention to these heritage collections, it’s important to remain true to brand heritage while also inserting newness into the lines (through design, marketing and partnerships). The key to building strong brands is to ensure that we are evolving the brand lifestyle approach through an infusion of current trends as well as expansion into new markets.

In addition to our overarching strategies, we also connect with our consumers through dedicated market research to understand their evolving preferences, needs and desires. We then take what we’ve learned and apply this to all aspects of our business, whether through design and merchandising initiatives that are leveraging forward-thinking tech like 3D programs and generative AI or in the social space, where we use robust brand social media efforts to reach our core consumers.

Product is the key to success, so we leverage innovative design approaches that infuse a sense of versatility and sophistication into the Perry Ellis product offering. With Original Penguin, we embrace our heritage and how the brand has evolved to meet the needs of the Original Penguin man of today.

Lastly, when communicating directly with our consumers, we use strategic marketing initiatives that convey the Perry Ellis and Original Penguin brand essence to our audiences. It’s important that we engage with our customers where they work, live and play. For Perry Ellis, we embrace the world of professional sports, and with Original Penguin, we speak to “An Original Good Time” through music-related marketing programs.

About the Author(s)

McKenna Morgan

Content Editor, License Global

McKenna Morgan is Content Editor for License Global. Based in the Santa Monica office, McKenna specializes in coverage involving non-profits, beauty and cosmetics, health and wellness, new and social media and entertainment licensing.

When McKenna isn’t covering the latest licensing news, she spends her time attending live music shows and finding her next travel destination.

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