NEW YORK — Jerome Jessup has been named senior executive vice president for merchandise and design at Ann Taylor Stores. The announcement Wednesday confirmed a WWD report that day about Jessup joining Ann Taylor.
Jessup becomes the highest-ranking executive at the Ann Taylor Stores division of Ann Taylor Stores Corp. Previously, Ann Taylor said it would name a president for the division to replace Kim Roy, who left in January. Ann Taylor executives couldn’t be reached for comment on whether, with Jessup on board, they still are seeking a president for the division. But it appears that one won’t be named, at least for now, and that Jessup could ultimately wind up with the title if all goes well in his new post.
But it won’t be an easy turnaround. Ann Taylor is known for selling classics, with some updating, suits and coordinated looks. The division has been floundering for years because of recent management turnover and changing merchandise directions resulting in the loss of its core career customer. In addition, the chain has suffered because the career market has been weakened by America’s casualization, although the Ann Taylor brand still has cachet.
Jessup will be getting plenty of backup from the corporation’s central organization. Aside from reporting to chairman J. Patrick Spainhour, who is said to maintain tight control over his executives and the decision making, Jessup will be supported by Barry Erdos, chief operating officer, and Melissa La Bau, executive vice president of retail operations.
Spainhour also noted that with the company’s Ann Taylor Loft division running strong, Loft president Kay Krill "will play an integral role in helping Jerome apply his product and creative talents to the Ann Taylor division." In his statement, Spainhour added: "Loft continues to deliver upon its expectations and we are confident in Kay Krill’s ability to take the Loft division to the next level." Total sales for the corporation came to $1.4 billion last year.
Jessup joins Ann Taylor from Gap Inc., where he was executive vice president of product development and design for Gap, GapKids, babyGap and Body. Prior to that, he was responsible for product development and design at the company’s Banana Republic division. Before joining Gap in 1993, Jessup was design director at Liz Claiborne and Adrienne Vittadini and a designer at Perry Ellis and Carmelo Pomodoro."Jerome’s extensive product and brand management experience will help us achieve greater consistency and excitement at Ann Taylor Stores," Spainhour said. "As a critical member of the senior management team, he will intensify our client focus to assure we meet our clients’ expectations season after season." Market sources said Jessup is likely to command a salary in the range of $600,000, while at Gap, his total compensation, including salary and bonus, is said to have topped the million-dollar mark.
At one point, Krill was being considered to head Ann Taylor Stores, in addition to running Loft. Sources said she declined to split her role. At the 185-unit Loft, however, Krill has a team that’s been in place longer than that at Ann Taylor, where most of the turnover has occurred, so communications and relationships are established.
Spainhour has been running the 350-unit Ann Taylor Stores since Roy left.
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews