LONDON — Jane Shepherdson, formerly brand director at Topshop, has been named chief executive of the Baugur-owned Whistles chain. It is the first major post Shepherdson has taken on since quitting Topshop in fall 2006.
In addition to her role as ceo, Shepherdson and her management team will become part owner of Whistles, together with Baugur, the second-largest investor in Saks Fifth Avenue, and Iceland's Glitnir Bank.
Baugur already owned Whistles via its holding company, Mosaic Fashions. Through a management buy-in deal with Shepherdson and her team, Baugur has spun off Whistles into a separate company. However, it remains the lead shareholder.
The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
In an interview Monday, Shepherdson said she wants to make Whistles "the most exciting place" on the British high street in terms of collections, service, merchandising and design. Asked if she'd take the brand to the U.S., she said: "Absolutely. There is no reason why Whistles should not be there."
Whistles, which has an older target audience than Topshop, is known for its colorful, on-trend but safe collections for work and weekend. The store also carries brands such as Antik Batik, Pink Soda and Paige Denim.
Shepherdson, who was in talks with Baugur since she left Topshop, said she plans to broaden the range and appeal to women older than 25 who are not scared of fashion, but who don't slavishly follow trends. "I feel very strongly about this brand, and I feel I can add something to it," she said. "It's totally different to Topshop."
She added that she is definitely not looking to make Whistles young in the style of Topshop, and hopes to appeal to "women's needs for quality and endurance" in fashion. Shepherdson said changes at the store probably would not be visible for another six to nine months.
Whistles was founded in 1976 by the husband-and-wife team of Richard and Lucille Lewin as a multibrand store. At the start, it sold lines from young designers including Jean Paul Gaultier, Dries Van Noten and John Galliano, as well as an in-house collection that at one time was wholesaled to major American department stores. The retailer was acquired by Mosaic Fashions in 2004, and currently has 40 stores across the U.K. and 40 department store concessions. It also sells online.Shepherdson said she likes the idea of selling bought-in brands at the store, and would be looking to bring in other names. She also plans to draw on the brand's heritage, stocking collections from young designers with whom she's developed relationships over the years.
Baugur's ceo, Gunnar Sigurdsson, said Whistles has great potential. "With the talent and experience that Jane and her team bring, we have no doubt that they will take advantage of the solid foundation and drive Whistles to new heights," he said in a statement.
Shepherdson is widely credited with transforming Topshop into a fashion and retailing icon. In addition to embracing catwalk and street trends, she made a habit of hiring designers including Celia Birtwell, Zandra Rhodes and Sophia Kokosalaki to design special collections for Topshop.
Since leaving Topshop, Shepherdson has consulted for a variety of not-for-profit organizations such as the poverty relief agency Oxfam, and People Tree, the fair trade clothing brand. In 2006, she was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire for her services to the fashion industry.
Shepherdson has drafted in former Topshop colleagues Keith Wilks as finance director and Jo Farrelly as marketing director. Farrelly was marketing director of Topshop from 2000 to 2007. Previously, she served in marketing roles at Levi Strauss Europe. Wilks was formerly Topshop's finance director.
Baugur's Mosaic Fashions remains the parent of such high street brands as Karen Millen, Oasis, Principles and Warehouse. It operates 1,809 stores and concessions, mainly in the U.K. and Ireland.
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews
“Stranger Things” is getting a new cast member for season 2. Meet @sadiesink_, the 15-year-old who will be joining the Netflix series for its new season. You may recognize her from “The Glass Castle” with Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, but the Texas native’s next role goes in an entirely different direction. She describes her character, Max, as “a rough and tumble skater girl [who] becomes friends with the boys at school.” The second season debuts on October 27. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdeye
Amid the Harvey Weinstein controversy, there’s another sector that’s being put under the spotlight for sexual abuse: the modeling industry. While rumors about abuse and sexual harassment of female and male models — and the photographers, agents and others who perpetrated it — have circulated within the fashion world for years, model @cameronrussell started posting stories from models on Instagram last week about abusive situations they’ve encountered — from sexual harassment and molestation to attempted rape. Over 75 have weighed in so far. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews
To celebrate its 16th anniversary, @dylanscandybar tapped designers and celebrities to create mosaics out of candy. The mosaics will be auctioned off to support the philanthropic cause of each participant’s choice. Pictured here is the mural created by @aliceandolivia's Stacey Bendet. For a first look at some of the other artwork being unveiled tonight, go to WWD.com. #wwdeye
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye