Vendors, retailers, and industry insiders agree: no one works harder, or knows the market better, than the partners at DLS Apparel Group. With a mission to scour the market, here and abroad, to discover new brands, trends, and ideas and interpret them for their 150 retailer clients, the DLS team has nurtured a devoted and appreciative following.
When Lee Leonard retired three years ago (after 35 years at the company), the menswear industry feared they’d lost an exuberant champion. “A funny thing happened on my way to work one morning,” quips Leonard. “I got married, moved to Seoul and started a new life.” As unlikely as it sounds, this proved to be a great move for him, as his passion for acting landed him an interesting job teaching speech and drama to high school kids at an international school.
As fate would have it, Lee’s contract was up just about the same time that Jerry Park was leaving DLS to move to Texas. Fred Derring (the “D” in DLS) reached out to Leonard and the band is back!
Says Fred, “Having been out of the business for several years, and living in one of the most fashion-forward cities in the world, Lee comes back to us energized and with a fresh perspective.”
Asked how the menswear business has changed since Lee’s absence, Fred responds thoughtfully. “Business has been tougher this past year: fashion moves more quickly, competition has intensified, new marketing options abound, yet stores remain cautious about change. For example only one of our retailers (Bruce Liles) is featuring pleated trousers in his pants mix; only a handful are creating excitement with pop-up shops. Our job is to help them accelerate change.”
Says Virginia Sanquist, the “S” in DLS, who is delighted to have Lee back, “Since we know and understand each other so well, the chemistry is right to move forward in a whole new way.”