Doug Williams Joins Hartmarx as President

Key post at Hartmarx successor firm taken by former Polo executive.

Doug Williams has been named president and chief operating officer of privately held HMX LLC, the successor of Hartmarx Corp.

This story first appeared in the September 3, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Williams, who has 25 years’ experience as a senior apparel and accessories executive in the wholesale, licensing and retail sectors, is also a former group president of Polo Ralph Lauren Corp. He spent 17 years at Polo working in areas such as licensing and international business development.

Williams, who will be based in New York, said, “When this opportunity came up, it was so exciting to be able to become involved with these amazing American icons….The focus right now — between Hickey Freeman and Hart Schaffner Marx, the Monarchy Collection and Misook — is to drive the brands with our domestic retail partners and execute them the way an operating company should without the constraints of a bankruptcy holding them back.”

Williams emphasized the acquisition by SKNL North America B.V. and Emerisque Brands U.K. Ltd. was a strategic one, with the goal not to flip the investment after a set time, but rather to build a global apparel firm that would peg the SKNL Group as “one of the largest apparel firms in the world.”

“The acquisition allows HMX to leverage off the financial strength of our parent, and once we get these brands engineered and refocused, allows us to take certain brands in the U.S. worldwide,” said Williams, who added he’s already looking to ramp up on staffing.

Williams in 2006 established W-Diamond Venture, a business development consultancy, which focused on premium brands. The consultancy, which is no longer in operation, also provided advisory work to investors in the fashion business.

HMX LLC is the name of the new company that now houses the brands and operations formerly under the umbrella of Hartmarx Corp., which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy court protection in January. Private equity firm Emerisque and Indian apparel conglomerate SKNL inked a deal in June to acquire Hartmarx. The transaction closed last month.

Nitin Kasliwal, chairman of both SKNL and HMX, said, “We are very happy to have Doug join us to lead the charge to re-establish HMX as a leading North American clothing company and restrengthen its brands.”

Ajay Khaitan, Emerisque’s co-founder and chief executive officer and vice chairman and ceo of HMX, said, “We want to preserve our tradition of ‘Made in America’ quality, offer innovation and excellence in design and manufacturing and vigorously pursue growth opportunities. Doug will be a key player to help us get there.”

Khaitan added that Williams has a reputation for leadership, as well as the development and execution of creative strategies in challenging circumstances.

Homi Patel retired as ceo of Hartmarx in July. Taras Proczko continues as chief operating officer of Hartmarx, and is involved in winding down operations at the bankrupt entity.