Perry Ellis, originally from Virginia, began his career in department store retailing. From the start he approached his merchandising responsibilities in the most innovative way, providing design ideas to vendors that often lead to best-sellers. It didn't take long before he was hired away by one of his key resources and came to New York to begin the second phase of what was to become a most remarkable career.
After working as a Design Director for a well known sportswear firm, Perry was given the opportunity to create his own division, which he named Portfolio. He quickly earned a reputation for fresh, innovative ideas by creating sophisticated and stylish clothes that were to become the "new classics" that every woman had to have.
In 1978 his success enabled him to become the head of his own Women's Sportswear Collection. Along with his team of talented designers, he produced distinctly individual clothes and accessories that changed the way American fashion was viewed. His extraordinary designs were sought after and admired by high profile personalities, key retailers, and the fashion press, all of whom responded to his witty take on classic American sportswear.
By 1980 he felt confident that his design sensibility would also be appropriate for men's sportswear. This lead to the creation of the Perry Ellis Menswear Collection, which in turn revolutionized men's casual clothing in America. He became known for his non-traditional, modern classics, and was lauded for consistently creating innovative fashion with "a twist".