Sokol to Exit Vera Wang

President of apparel helped transform the firm into a multitiered fashion business.

NEW YORK — Susan Sokol is leaving Vera Wang.

This story first appeared in the October 16, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Sokol, who has served as Vera Wang’s president of apparel for the past four years, has been instrumental in transforming the firm from a bridal to a multitiered fashion business. Her last day is Friday.

“I have tremendous respect for Vera as a designer, and over the years, we have also become friends,” Sokol told WWD. “This was not an easy decision.”

Sokol declined to comment on her plans, but according to industry sources, an announcement is expected shortly.

Sokol joined the company in 2004, responsible for sales, merchandising, production, distribution and the development of strategic business plans for Wang’s apparel businesses. She is largely credited with bringing a structure to the fashion house and bringing in a team to build Wang’s designer collection, which industry sources peg at about $15 million wholesale.

During her tenure, Sokol also helped conceptualize and build the contemporary Lavender label, which is sold in over 400 doors, and is estimated by sources to generate $50 million in wholesale volume. Recently, Sokol was instrumental in signing licenses for Lavender handbags and shoes, and securing an international distribution license with J. Roseroco New York Co. for Korea.

“I think Susan is one of the most talented executives in the apparel industry,” Wang said. “She succeeds at everything she does and we are sorry to lose her.” It could not be learned if a successor will be named.

Sokol came to Vera Wang with an extensive résumé. Before joining the firm, she had served as a consultant and acting president at Michael Kors. Prior to that, she owned her own consulting firm, SLS Consulting LLC, where she worked with the likes of Kors, Badgley Mischka, Judith Leiber and Wang. She was chief executive officer of The Leiber Group (initially called Pegasus Apparel Group) and, before that, president of Donna Karan New York for three years. Sokol also spent 22 years at Calvin Klein, rising to president of women’s Calvin Klein Collection, a post she held for 11 years.

Earlier this year, Wang recruited Constance Darrow, once the president of Prada USA, as president of creative direction, overseeing the design studio and all fashion product development, as well as the retail development and management of the Vera Wang freestanding boutiques.