With three other c-level spots already vacant — senior vice president of logistics, executive vice president of design and executive vice president of merchandising — insiders are uncertain of the brand’s direction and wonder who might be able to fill Day’s formidable shoes.
“Not many people can,” said Sam Poser, a retail analyst at Stern Agee. “Skill set and culture will be an extremely big challenge. It would be great if they can find a Nike person who could do it, but it’s unlikely because Lululemon is more of a retail business. I think Lululemon has more in common with Nordstrom than Nike or Under Armour.”
According to Poser, the best candidate would come from a brand with an almost cultlike following and a strong retail presence, such as Apple, Nordstrom Inc., J. Crew Group or an LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton brand.
Coach Inc. president and chief operating officer Jerry Stritzke, who serves as a Lululemon board member, has emerged as a leading candidate for Day’s job, according to many observers.
In the months leading up to Day’s unexpected departure decision, Lululemon recalled a hefty shipment of black yoga pants deemed too sheer — a mistake that would not only cost the company an estimated $67 million in lost sales, but also chief product officer Sheree Waterson her job in April.
Sources told WWD that when the yoga-inspired firm experienced those sourcing problems, Stritzke reached out to play a meaningful role in correcting Lululemon’s sourcing woes.
Up until then, the Vancouver-based maker of fashionable activewear had enjoyed a string of positive headlines, a relatively low profile and strong financial results. Despite the yoga pant recall, Lululemon ended fiscal 2012 with a 46.7 percent gain in net income to $271.4 million, or $1.85 a diluted share, on a 37 percent jump in annual revenue to $1.37 billion.
“If Stritzke is sitting on the board and has a somewhat relevant background, they may view him as the next leader,” said Howard Gross, managing director of executive search firm Boyden.
Lew Frankfort, Coach’s longtime ceo, will retire in January but remain executive chairman. The company chose president and chief commercial officer Victor Luis to succeed him, “passing over” Stritzke, a source close to Coach said, adding, “It makes sense.”
Like Day, Stritzke has an operational and managerial background, but he lacks retail experience, one source said, pointing to his colleague Michael Tucci, president of Coach North America, as another viable candidate.
Tucci, a classic retail and merchandising specialist, may have a different background from Day, but he shares her “dynamic” nature, the source offered, but added there’s some “sensitivity to having a woman” in the big job.
Potential female candidates could include Victoria’s Secret ceo and president Sharon Turney, former Bath & Body Works ceo Diane Neal, former Avon Products president and current ceo of Outback Steakhouse Elizabeth Smith and Anne Martin-Vachon, chief merchandising officer at HSN.
HSN ceo Mindy Grossman, a name that is perennially floated, would be a great example of what Lululemon could be looking for, a source said, adding the same for Glen Senk, ceo of David Yurman, although it is unlikely either would take it.
Saks Inc. president and chief merchandising officer Ron Frasch, Judith Ripka president Charles Jayson, Bath & Body Works ceo Nicholas Coe and Urban Outfitters Group ceo Tedford Marlow were all floated as possibilities, but may be long shots.
“They have to move very fast [to replace Day]. These things are process-laden. This is a three-month event,” said Les Berglass, founder and chairman of Berglass + Associates, who noted that hiring a head merchant will take another six months to a year.
In-house talent does not appear to be promotable, he said, adding that the ideal candidate needs to be a leader.
“The ceo is no longer the lead violinist in a company. It’s the orchestra leader,” Berglass said. “You need a true general manager who bridges the world of performance and fashion.”
That aside, what plagued most experts wasn’t who will become ceo, it was why did Day, whom many credit as the visionary of the brand, decide to leave Lululemon so suddenly.
“This reminds me of when Mickey Drexler left the Gap. What you have is a precipitous series of events,” one source said. “I can’t picture the board firing Day. There’s a mystery in there. There was probably a contentious argument between her and the board. She made a lot of money and probably said, ‘I don’t need this.’”
RBC Capital Markets analyst Howard Tubin wondered if Day was asked to leave, following the black-pant fiasco.
“It’s just too close to an issue to remove it from the reason why she’s leaving,” he noted.
A former Starbucks executive, Day won’t likely be unemployed for long, as she had emerged as one of the industry’s brightest ceo’s and had been largely regarded as the chief architect of Lululemon’s success.
While Kenneth Cole Productions Inc. is looking for a ceo, Day might land back in consumer products at Starbucks or Apple, as Ron Johnson’s old gig as retail chief is still vacant, experts mused. Others surmised that Day could go to J. Crew or return to the activewear world, running Gap Inc.’s Athleta brand, or the women’s businesses of rivals such as Nike or Adidas.
“Just about anything’s open to her,” said Elaine Hughes, founder and ceo of search firm E.A. Hughes, who noted that she could take a top job at one of VF Corp.’s lifestyle brands or even go to J.C. Penney Co. Inc.
“She could be a breath of fresh air at Penney’s, but she’d be wise to look under the covers first,” Hughes said.
@fearofgod and @maxfieldla have teamed up on a pop-up installation. The store, located in the gallery space across from Maxfield’s Melrose Ave location, is the site of the brand’s House of God pop-up in which Fear of God founder @jerrylorenzo has created a church-inspired installation. A dozen vintage church pews sit in front of an LED screen playing 90s gospel singers in an effort to re-create an environment akin to a Southern Baptist Church, Lorenzo explained. Read more about the pop-up on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Jennifer Johnson)
Known for his sleek, sophisticated American glamour, Norman Norell is the subject of an upcoming exhibition at @fitnyc. “Norell: Dean of American Fashion,” which runs from February 9 through April 14, will feature approximately 100 ensembles and accessories. His best work is exemplified by the designer’s glittering “mermaid” gowns frosted with thousands of hand-sewn sequins – like the one pictured. (📷: William Helburn) #wwdfashion
For pre-fall 2018, @balmain didn’t let go of the glitz. A crystal embroidered baseball jacket priced at around $40,000 hangs in the “couture” section of the brand’s first men’s pre-collection. Sporting the words “Balmain Army” across the back, the item took around two months to make. “When it was completed, it was like Christmas, it was like, ‘It’s done, it’s exactly what I wanted,’” said Balmain’s creative director @olivier_rousteing during a tour of the collection in a Paris showroom on Monday. #wwdfashion
Eighty degree temperatures and outdoor installations at the annual Art Basel Miami Beach called for bright, elevated beachwear. See more street style pictures on WWD.com. #theyarewearing #ABMB (📷: @lifeinreverie)
Following September’s emotional tribute to her brother Gianni, Donatella Versace wanted to bring the spring show’s deep sense of intimacy to her @versace_official pre-fall collection. Donatella found inspiration in Versace Palazzo in Milan and from Gianni’s opulent apartment. Archival patterns and new motifs were splashed on silk shirtdresses and fitted jersey frocks. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com. #wwdfashion
Demna Gvasalia continues to shake up the Paris fashion calendar — and experiment with new runway timetables for his @vetements_official brand. WWD has learned that Vetements plans to stage its next coed show for the fall 2018 season on January 19 during Men’s Fashion Week in the French capital. Details about the timing and venue have not been confirmed — stay tuned on WWD.com to catch the latest. #wwdnews (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo)
@zacposen's go-to holiday gift? Cookies! "I'll usually bake cookies and send them as a gift," said the designer, who recently released his cookbook "Cooking With Zac: Recipes from Rustic to Refined." Get the recipe for his Brown Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies via link in bio 🍪🍪🍪 #wwdeye #cookingwithzac
For @monsemaison’s pre-fall 2018 collection, Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim honed in on the brand’s many signatures — men’s wear, which was tweaked and feminized through deconstruction, proportion play and lots of bare shoulders. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)
On Friday night, @yohjiyamamotoofficial received the Design for Asia Lifetime Achievement Award in Hong Kong. The 75-year-old designer has been celebrated for many years and is best known for his dark and avant-garde tailoring. “In my long career, in design, architecture, [I’ve been to] so many parties, this is the very first time that I have such a warm feeling, I really appreciate this,” Yamamoto said. #wwdfashion (📷: @dominiquemaitre)