Designers make money in all kinds of interesting ways, including some you would never expect.
Take Geoffrey Beene, whom many consider the best designer of women's clothes in America, if not the world, not to mention the solar system. He is also the leading designer of men's dress shirts in the United States.
Department store sales of Beene's dress shirts outdistance the nearest competitors, Christian Dior and Perry Ellis , in 1990, according to a survey by the NPD Group, a Port Washington, N.Y., research company that tracks cash-register sales.
The Beene label captured about 10 percent of the total department store market in 1990, said Allen Sirkin, the chairman of the Phillips-Van Heusen Apparel Group, wich makes the Beene shirts under a licensing agreement with the designer.
The company sold about three million Beene-label shirts last year, at $30 to $45, Sirkin said. At a typical industry average of 5 percent royalty for wholesale, this would bring in about $50 million a year. That pays for a lot of experimental dresses.