Kathy Bronstein, vice chairman and chief executive officer of The Wet Seal Inc., was forced out Thursday, becoming the latest casualty in a season of pink slips. Since January, top merchants have exited Ann Taylor, Linens & Things, Toys ‘R’ Us, Bath & Body Works, Coach, Talbots, Filene’s, J.C. Penney, Parisian and J. Crew, reflecting hard times at retail and a need for new direction.
"The pace of high-profile retail departures is about as high as I’ve ever seen it," said Kirk Palmer, of the executive search firm bearing his name.
"We haven’t had as bad a year for turnover as this since 1993, when the likes of Andrea Jung, Joseph Gromek and Roger Markfield were all making moves," said Elaine Hughes, of executive search firm E.A. Hughes & Co.
At the $600 million Wet Seal, Irv Teitelbaum, chairman who’s also chairman and ceo of Canadian apparel and lingerie chain La Senza, became interim ceo. He had kind words for the departing Bronstein, who joined Wet Seal in 1985 as a merchandise manager, became ceo in 1992, and had a reputation for being a tough, hard-driving, business builder, gobbling up other specialty chains to grow Wet Seal.
Wet Seal really became a national force in 1995, when it purchased and eventually converted 245 Contempo Casual stores. It also acquired 78 Britches stores in 1999, and 18 Zutopia stores in 2001, and launched the Arden B. division in 1998.The Foothill Ranch, Calif.-based chain specializes in contemporary apparel and accessories, and operates 476 Wet Seal stores, 100 Arden B. stores and 30 Zutopia stores.
But comparable-store sales have recently been in the negative zone, while competitors Hot Topic, Pacific Sunwear, American Eagle and Abercrombie& Fitch have posted gains. Wet Seal’s stock price has fallen from about $25 last spring, to under $10 this year. On Thursday’s announcements on Bronstein and slumping comp sales Wet Seal lost another 13 percent, falling to $7.34 on the Nasdaq. Wet Seal’s troubles, sources said, stem as much from the poor economy and over-stored teen retail sector, as from poor merchandising execution.Still, Teitelbaum wanted Bronstein to go out on a good note. "As a visionary in the world of young women’s ready-to-wear fashion, Kathy has led the company to a position of impressive growth and achievement," he said in a statement.
So far this year, Beth Pritchard left as ceo of Bath& Body Works; former Gap ceo Millard Drexler joined J. Crew as chairman and ceo, succeeding Emily Woods and Ken Pilot, respectively; Penney’s named Lana Cain Krauter as executive vice president and general merchandise manager for men’s and children’s, succeeding William Cappiello; Talbots promoted Ken Bosworth to executive vice president and chief merchandising officer, ousting H. Jim Metscher; Kim Roy was forced out at Ann Taylor, with chairman and ceo J. Patrick Spainhour taking control, and Rob Gruen departed Parisian, with George Jones, ceo of the parent Saks Inc. taking control.
@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)