Cynthia Rowley is doing just swell. Named for the designer of the same name, the company designs and sells apparel, footwear, a signature fragrance, and related accessories (handbags, hats, hosiery, jewelry). Rowley is also a co-founder of Swellco, which produces trendy home goods for discounter Target. Rowley's fashions are manufactured by third parties and sold in four upscale Cynthia Rowley boutiques in the US. In Japan, where the firm has a licensing deal with ITOCHU, there are about 45 shops. Rowley's merchandise is also sold in high-end department (Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale's) and specialty stores in the US and abroad, as well as online. The namesake company is owned by Cynthia Rowley.
Rowley's clothes reflect her well-developed sense of play. Drawing on shared and familiar elements of popular American culture, she elevates the mundane, rethinking and transforming the cliché to produce garments that arrest and amuse. Yet she is careful not to push a joke too far—her clothes, though with a sense of humor for daily use, are not novelty items to be quickly discarded. Instances of her quirky style include a long, snap-fronted sleeveless dress of quilted rayon and acetate satin worn over a matching ribbed cotton turtleneck for fall 1992, with a reference to the classic hunter's vest simultaneously reinforced and subverted by a six-pack of Budweiser slung low on the model's hip.