LOS ANGELES — The Wet Seal Inc. isn’t taking its troubles lying down.
The struggling junior specialty chain on Wednesday named former Disney Store executive Allan Haims as president of its Wet Seal division. He succeeds Susan O’Toole, who assumes the new position of chief merchandising officer of the division.
The firm also named designer Victor Alfaro senior vice president and creative director of the Wet Seal division. He succeeds Lenny Parrella, who left the company last week for personal reasons.
The moves at the Foothill Ranch, Calif.-based women’s specialty chain represent the first gusts of change at the specialty retailer under the two-month tenure of chief executive officer Peter Whitford, the former president, worldwide, of Disney Store Inc.
“We think the new appointments will help us move forward and rebuild the business quickly,” he said.
At the 490-store flagship division, all Wet Seal store operations will now report directly to Haims rather than the chief administrative officer, “giving us an opportunity to streamline communications,” Whitford said.
Alfaro, who until last year operated his signature women’s line in partnership with Milan-based Gilmar Divisione Industria SpA, will be involved in product design and development. He’ll also lend influence to the stores’ visual presentation and marketing message.
At the company level, Joseph Deckop was tapped for the new post of executive vice president of central planning and allocation. Deckop most recently served as senior vice president of strategic systems and planning at the Disney Store.
Analysts said they’re still digesting the news of the management changes. More changes could be announced todayduring Wet Seal’s second-quarter conference call.
Liz Pierce, retail analyst at Sanders Morris Harris, called O’Toole’s new post a surprise. “I knew things weren’t perfect,” Pierce said. “They’re trying to fit the right people to the right thing and sometimes it’s not right on the first try.”
Pierce said Alfaro’s success will hinge on how he translates his styles to the juniors market. The designer’s influences will first be seen for spring and summer 2004, according to Whitford.Wet Seal’s company July same-store sales fell 12.3 percent, beating analysts’ estimates of a 12.9 percent decline and showing signs of improvement from June’s decline of 21.5 percent and May’s 25 percent slide. First-quarter comps were off 25.5 percent.
Second-quarter net sales dropped 13.8 percent to $126 million from $146.2 million a year earlier.
Wet Seal is hoping that, on a smaller scale, it can duplicate Gap Inc.’s turnaround after several years of sliding sales. Former Disney executive Paul Pressler has rejuvenated results at Gap, enlisting other Disney veterans to do so.
“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