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.