Fashion

ABS by Allen Schwartz Acquired by Five Oak Brand Advisors – WWD

ABS by Allen Schwartz is changing hands.

A Five Oak Brand Management Advisors-led investment group has acquired ABS by Allen Schwartz and all its subsidiaries for an undisclosed sum. The Five Oak team is leading the investment group and plans to manage and grow the brand globally. Five Oak Brand Management Advisors acquired the business from Allen B. Schwartz, 76, who has been the principal owner of the intellectual property.

“We are excited to welcome Allen and the ABS Allen Schwartz portfolio to the Five Oak family. The acquisition of the ABS Allen Schwarz brands is a milestone for Five Oak as we are growing our brand portfolio and have been seeking brands with the stature and track record of ABS Allen Schwarz,” said Simon Douek, chief executive officer of Five Oak Brand Management Advisors.

“Our years of experience consulting with brands and manufacturers has Five Oak poised to grow the brand’s domestic and global reach while continuing to bring the fashion-savvy consumer a top-quality product with up-to-date staying at attainable price points,” he added.

The Five Oak team will manage the brand, and Schwartz will stay on as creative director for at least a year. He is bringing his assistant, but no other staff is coming along in the deal.

Schwartz started ABS by Allen Schwartz  in 1982 and the brand became an important resource in the contemporary space with retailers such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom. The company was known for offering trendy apparel and fashion-forward styles. He made a name for himself in the late 1990s and 2000s by being able to turn around interpretations of red carpet gowns for the mass market in a matter of weeks. He would generate publicity for his label the morning after the Oscars, when he’d reveal his dress selections.

For nearly 40 years, Schwartz rode the wave of California contemporary, achieving success with his dress business in department stores, licensing other categories, including denim, plus sizes and men’s wear, and in 2017, launching an advanced contemporary label, Allen Schwartz, targeting specialty stores. He has historically found department stores difficult to deal with and has been outspoken about it over the years. One of the main reasons that Schwartz has remained nimble is he’s always manufactured in Los Angeles. In 2020, Schwartz introduced the brand’s first upcycled collection, featuring matte and crepe satin tailoring made from a polyester repurposed from recycled bottles, and ’90s throwback floral dresses made from 100 percent recycled poly chiffon.

The acquisition provides Schwartz with a strategic partner that will manage licensing and sourcing. The brand looks to diversify its sourcing and supply chain for a more global reach. ABS by Allen Schwartz will celebrate its 40th anniversary this year, and this milestone will be incorporated into a larger marketing strategy, incorporating influencers, collaborations and events.

“After many years in the business, I see the acquisition as a partnership that will help the brand continue to grow and position itself in the new era of fashion. We have new opportunities on the horizon for 2022, and I am beyond thrilled about everything we plan to do,” said Schwartz.

In a telephone interview Friday, Schwartz said that in the past year, his business got very difficult, he had to get rid of inventory and was getting frustrated with COVID-19. A lot of  his contractors started to go out of business, and he was thinking of going offshore. He then met Douek and Schwartz said he mentioned that the business needs to be offshore. Douek asked if he’d be interested in selling the company.

“The timing was right. I liked him. He’s a very smart guy and he has a good vision. I said, ‘yes, I would,’” said Schwartz. Schwartz said he shipped his last line around August 2021, so they have bought “an absolute clean slate.”

Among the brands that Five Oak has acquired are Allen B, Allen Schwartz, ABS by Allen Schwartz, and Allen B by Allen Schwartz.

Schwartz noted that his eight licensing agreements have ended because they couldn’t make payments during COVID-19 and Five Oak will start fresh with new licensees.

Schwartz said he anticipates that Five Oak will keep the core businesses, dresses and sportswear, and license out categories such as footwear, cold weather accessories and outerwear. Another category he sees potential in is young men’s contemporary or streetwear.

He said the new company will start showing product in March and April. The brand, which will move into a new showroom in New York, will continue in the advanced contemporary and contemporary markets.

Schwartz said the industry is upside-down, “and the people who can weather it are the heritage vintage brands that are coming back and have that energy. I like the transfer of the nucleus going to New York,” he said.

Five Oak Brand Management Advisors, which is based in New York, is a brand management company. This is its first time owning an apparel brand. Generally, it manages the brands, which are owned by either original owners or investors.

 

FOR MORE STORIES: 

Allen Schwartz Launches Upcycled Fashion Collection

Allen Schwartz Rebrands as Advanced-Contemporary Collection



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