NEW YORK — Kellwood Co. is stepping on the Vince accelerator.
The company said Wednesday that Jill Granoff, chief executive officer of Kellwood, will assume the additional responsibility of ceo of Vince, overseeing the strategic growth and direction of the Los Angeles-based contemporary brand. In addition, Granoff named Doo-Ri Chung creative director of Vince. Chung will relocate to Vince’s Los Angeles design studio and will be responsible for design, product development and creative branding initiatives.
Granoff said one of the reasons she was hired by Sun Capital Partners to be the ceo of Kellwood “was to accelerate the growth of Vince and unleash its potential as a global lifestyle brand.” There has been speculation Sun may do an initial public offering for Vince, but Granoff declined to comment. Kellwood is reportedly working with Goldman Sachs as it explores an IPO or sale of Vince, although it couldn’t be learned if the investment bank has been officially hired to put together an offering.
If there were an IPO, financial sources believe it would be a partial spin off of Vince, which would leave Kellwood holding a significant stake in that business, as well as its other, less profitable businesses, such as Rebecca Taylor, Sag Harbor and My Michelle.
“I’ve been involved in overseeing [Vince] since Day One,” said Granoff, who joined Kellwood last May after having been ceo of Kenneth Cole Productions Inc. Vince’s retail, licensing and marketing operations have reported to her. She will continue to be based in New York and will travel back and forth to Los Angeles.
She reiterated LaPolice’s remark that he and Laccone had only wanted to stay five years after selling Vince to Kellwood in 2006, and ended up staying seven years. “They stayed and worked on the transition. This has been carefully orchestrated,” said Granoff. LaPolice and Laccone no longer had an ownership stake in Vince, which they founded in 2002, and plan to leave Feb. 1. LaPolice ran sales and marketing, and Laccone was responsible for design, merchandising and production.
Granoff believes Chung has the right design sensibility to take the Vince business forward. “She’s very well known for her design and technical aesthetic. She has a modern design aesthetic and a real understanding of our customer,” said Granoff. She said Chung will work with the current team of Vince designers, patternmakers and production executives at the Los Angeles design studio.
A Korean-American, Chung launched her signature collection in 2003 after graduating from Parsons School of Design and working for Geoffrey Beene for five years. She has won numerous awards for her design and technical excellence. Known for her draping, particularly of jersey fabric, detailed knitwear and art-inspired prints, Chung was recognized as Parsons Designer of the Year in 1995, and was the winner of both the CFDA Swarovski Perry Ellis Award and Vogue Fashion Fund Award in 2006. In 2011, Chung dressed First Lady Michelle Obama for a White House state dinner with President Lee Myung-bak of South Korea, with a vivid plum-colored, one-shouldered jersey gown, adapted from a runway look, and accented with a turquoise beaded belt. Last year, she was also the featured designer for Macy’s Impulse department.
“I’ve long admired the [Vince] brand because of its loyal customer following and its modern design sensibility,” said Chung, who was unavailable for further comment. Karen Harvey handled the search for the creative director at Vince.
Over the course of the past eight months, Granoff has hired several executives to strengthen the management ranks. At Vince, Beth Cohn was named senior vice president of retail; Jill Steinberg was tapped senior vice president of women’s wholesale; Marc Carver became vice president of men’s wholesale, and Jennifer Pohland joined as vice president of finance. Rebecca Damavandi was named group president of global business development at Kellwood, and Lisa Klinger was appointed chief financial officer for Kellwood and Vince. Klinger has had recent experience with a retail IPO, having previously been executive vice president and cfo of The Fresh Market Inc., where she earned high marks for her handling of the firm’s 2010 stock market listing.
Kellwood’s third-quarter earnings before interest, depreciation, taxes, amortization and restructuring increased 13.8 percent to $19.8 million from $17.4 million a year earlier. Sales for the three months rose 3.6 percent to $215.5 million from $208 million. Vince is considered Kellwood’s financial engine. The brand is estimated to have about $60 million in EBITDA on sales of $225 million to $250 million.
According to Granoff, top priorities will be to continue to expand and elevate the product assortment; maximize the business with key retail partners, and accelerate the retail and e-commerce growth. The company is currently relaunching the Vince Web site and believes it can double the freestanding store count in the next three years. There are presently 19 full-price boutiques and three outlet stores. Vince also plans to develop its licensing and international business, will open more shops-in-shop in the U.K. and Canada and roll out shops in Asia.
In yet another fashion show shuffle, @elleryland is moving its show in sync with the Paris couture calendar — though the brand is still keeping one foot on the city’s ready-to-wear schedule. Their runway show in January will coincide with the launch of a new strategy: designing two main collections each year instead of four, which will then be released in four drops. “As we all know, the system needs to change. We need to show sooner to give time back to artisans and designers to do what they do best — create,” said founder Kym Ellery. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
@maxmara’s classic 101801 coat was the cornerstone of its pre-fall 2018 collection. The design team expanded the traditional double-breasted, kimono-sleeved style into a trapeze coat, lean belted styles and a peacoat and presented them in monochromatic looks – like the camel one pictured here. #wwdfashion #prefall18 (📷: George Chinsee)
The @cfda has shifted the dates of #NYFW, with Men’s showing on February 5 through February 7, and Women’s will directly follow, running from February 8 through 14. The preliminary schedule will be released on the CFDA’s web site in the next few days, but Mark Beckham, VP of marketing for the CFDA, revealed that @rafsimons will be back to close the men’s-specific part of the week with a show on February 7 #wwdfashion (📷: Kelly Taub)
@ferragamo is introducing a new space dedicated to the development of women’s and men’s leather good samples. The laboratory, which is created eco-friendly materials and designed to reduce the environmental impact of the manufacturing processes, will allow the company to expand its accessories offering through traditional artisanal approaches. #wwdfashion (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
How does a “regular, degular, schmegular” girl from the Bronx, N.Y., become a Grammy-nominated artist with a certified platinum record in less than a year? Call it the @iamcardib come up. The 25-year-old has become a musical sensation, and the fashion world is taking note. “If I could describe her style I would say drama. She’s really into the dramatics,” says Cardi B’s stylist @kollincarter. See how Carter styles her bold and out there looks with the link in bio. #wwdfashion
“There is no formula. There is no guideline. I can watch Ted Talks all day, but there is no one who can advise me on exactly what it is I should be doing,” said @ronniefieg, CEO of @kith, in an interview with WWD’s @ariahughes at the brand’s new SoHo office in Manhattan. Head to WWD.com to see how Fieg went from hanging out in shoe stockrooms at 13 to building his own business. #wwdfashion (📷: @weston.wells)
@fearofgod and @maxfieldla have teamed up on a pop-up installation. The store, located in the gallery space across from Maxfield’s Melrose Ave location, is the site of the brand’s House of God pop-up in which Fear of God founder @jerrylorenzo has created a church-inspired installation. A dozen vintage church pews sit in front of an LED screen playing 90s gospel singers in an effort to re-create an environment akin to a Southern Baptist Church, Lorenzo explained. Read more about the pop-up on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Jennifer Johnson)
Known for his sleek, sophisticated American glamour, Norman Norell is the subject of an upcoming exhibition at @fitnyc. “Norell: Dean of American Fashion,” which runs from February 9 through April 14, will feature approximately 100 ensembles and accessories. His best work is exemplified by the designer’s glittering “mermaid” gowns frosted with thousands of hand-sewn sequins – like the one pictured. (📷: William Helburn) #wwdfashion
For pre-fall 2018, @balmain didn’t let go of the glitz. A crystal embroidered baseball jacket priced at around $40,000 hangs in the “couture” section of the brand’s first men’s pre-collection. Sporting the words “Balmain Army” across the back, the item took around two months to make. “When it was completed, it was like Christmas, it was like, ‘It’s done, it’s exactly what I wanted,’” said Balmain’s creative director @olivier_rousteing during a tour of the collection in a Paris showroom on Monday. #wwdfashion