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NEW YORK — The continued restructuring of Michael Kors LLC under new ownership has attracted another top industry player, as Don Witkowski announced his resignation from Nautica International on Tuesday to join Kors as president of the collection men’s wear division.
Witkowski, a 20-year veteran of men’s wear, was a driving force behind the growth of Donna Karan’s men’s business in the late Nineties, before he moved to Nautica as president of its men’s division in October 2001. Witkowski will leave Nautica on May 30 and join Kors on June 2.
Since a majority stake in Michael Kors was acquired in January by Sportswear Holdings Ltd., the holding company of Lawrence Stroll and Silas Chou, the new owners also have installed Allison Ryba as interim president and hired Susan Sokol as a consultant. The company also is looking to name a new chief executive officer. Witkowski and Ryba both played key roles in the John Idol-led era of Donna Karan, and both left the company around the same time Idol went to Kasper ASL as ceo.
“When Silas and I acquired Michael Kors, we targeted the men’s business as a huge opportunity for growth,” said Stroll, co-chairman of Michael Kors, in a statement. “The demand is certainly there, and with Don on board, we have no doubt that we will become the next great men’s powerhouse.”
After several attempts with capsule collections, Kors launched a full men’s line last year, which earned him a nomination for men’s wear designer of the year at the upcoming Council of Fashion Designers of America Fashion Awards, also on June 2, which Stroll pointed to as evidence of the designer’s growing presence in men’s wear and the company’s need to create a new position to helm that division.
Nautica said Witkowski will oversee the transition period leading to his departure, while the firm looks for a replacement.