NEW YORK — Apparel veteran Mark Mendelson, who most recently headed Ann Taylor Stores Corp.'s new concept division, has been named president of Ellen Tracy LLC, a division of Fashionology Group LLC.
Mendelson, 49, begins today and will be based at Ellen Tracy headquarters here. He succeeds Ann Bukawyn, who served as president of Ellen Tracy while it operated under the Liz Claiborne organization and has assumed new duties within Claiborne.
Since August, Mendelson has been at Ann Taylor, where he was hired to spearhead a new retail concept targeted to "the modern boomer." The idea had been in development for a few years, but after Ann Taylor reported a fourth-quarter loss in March, hurt by costs related to its restructuring program and a weakening misses' apparel sector, the concept was put on hold. A replacement for Mendelson won't be named, according to an Ann Taylor spokeswoman.
Prior to joining Ann Taylor, Mendelson spent five years at Jones Apparel Group Inc., rising to chief merchandising officer of better apparel. Earlier he served as group president, handling Jones' better sportswear brands — Nine West, Jones New York and Anne Klein. Before that, Mendelson was president of Elie Tahari Ltd. from 1998 to 2001 and executive vice president of sales and marketing for Laundry by Shelli Segal from 1995 to 1998.
In his new role at Ellen Tracy, Mendelson is expected to focus on building an organizational infrastructure, including a revamping of the creative and marketing teams in an effort to restore the company to its dominant position in the bridge arena. The company has seen its clout and real estate diminish at department stores over the last several years.
"I am excited about the upside potential in Ellen Tracy," said Mendelson Friday. "It is a powerful brand that simply needs to be taken in the right direction."
He will report to the Fashionology board.
"We're very excited to have him. He definitely has the DNA," said Jamie Salter, chief executive officer of Hilco Consumer Capital, which owns Fashionology with Windsong Brands, and other investors. "He understands the customer. He's really a merchant and seller and understands product very well. Every company we buy needs certain aspects. This company needs leadership in merchandising and the product side."He noted that Ken Ragland continues as chief operating officer of Fashionology. Salter said Mendelson will hire a new designer for Ellen Tracy shortly. As reported, George Sharp resigned as vice president of design in January to join St. John as executive vice president of design.
Fashionology bought Ellen Tracy, whose wholesale volume is estimated to be around $100 million, from Liz Claiborne Inc., for $42.3 million in April. Claiborne acquired Ellen Tracy in September 2002 from the company's founders for about $180 million, when the brand was generating about $171 million in sales.
Fashionology Group LLC, which manages Ellen Tracy and CJ Apparel Group LLC, was established by Windsong Brands LLC and Hilco Consumer Capital, along with Radius Partners LLC and the private investment office of Barry Sternlicht last month. Between Ellen Tracy Inc. and CJ Apparel's best-known moderate brand Caribbean Joe, Fashionology's revenues exceed $200 million at wholesale.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast