Sun Capital Securities Group LLC, which acquired Kellwood for $762 million three months ago, is cutting executive posts — leaving the New York corporate office bare and the St. Louis headquarters grasping to hold onto staff who fear their jobs will be casualties of consolidation, according to sources.
Among those let go were Kellwood global president Jeff Streader, general counsel Thomas H. Pollihan, vice president of corporate communications Donna Weaver, and at least two New York-based strategic executives.
"Kellwood is making strategic and operational improvements to position the company for long-term growth and profitability," Jason Bernzweig, vice president of Sun Capital, said. "We believe these changes will benefit Kellwood's customers and employees. Kellwood has a strong portfolio of brands, as well as talented and committed employees, and we are investing in the company's future."
This news follows Sun's hiring of Russell Reynolds Associates Inc. to find a replacement for Kellwood chairman, chief executive officer and president Robert C. Skinner Jr.
Last year, Kellwood's board approved so-called "golden parachute" severance packages for most of its top executives, so these cuts are coming at a price for Sun.
Sources speculate the private equity firm is going to have a tough time finding a new ceo for the long-underperforming $1.6 billion vendor. Russell Reynolds has already approached several candidates about the job, but the pay Sun is offering does not measure up to the magnitude of the turnaround expected, according to sources.
Although Sun's specific intentions for Kellwood are unknown, sources said a ceo candidate needs to be financially adept, both to cut costs within Kellwood and to relate to its new private equity parent; have solid relationships with the midtier department stores to which Kellwood sells its predominately moderate portfolio, and come with retail experience, as Kellwood grows its direct-to-consumer arm, opening its first Vince store in Los Angeles this month.
At Kellwood's St. Louis headquarters, the accounts payable and receivables area is seeing an exodus of employees who fear that their division will be the next consolidated, as Sun restructures Kellwood to cut costs.
Sun has quietly shuttered several businesses in the last few weeks, including O Oscar, Liz Claiborne brand suits and dresses, and its moderate dress business.
“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