NEW YORK — Susan Sokol, who in June came close to joining Sean John, has landed at Vera Wang Ltd. as president of Vera Wang Apparel, a new post.
Sokol will be responsible for sales, merchandising, production, distribution and the development of strategic business plans for Wang’s apparel businesses, including ready-to-wear, bridal, bridesmaid and dresses.
“It’s a good fit for me,” said Sokol in an interview. “I think the brand is very powerful, and the opportunity for growth in all the divisions is enormous.”
Most recently, Sokol owned and managed her own consulting firm, SLS Consulting LLC, and served as an adviser to such companies as Michael Kors, Badgley Mischka, Judith Leiber and Wang. Before that, she was chief executive officer of The Leiber Group (initially called Pegasus Apparel Group), prior to which she was president of Donna Karan International’s women’s division. Earlier, she spent 22 years at Calvin Klein, rising to president of Calvin Klein Collection, a post she held for 11 years.
Sokol reports to Vera Wang, chairman and chief executive officer, and Chet Hazzard, vice chairman and chief operating officer.
Sokol said she first met Wang when she was at Calvin Klein, and Wang was at Vogue. “Timing in life is everything. There are a lot of good things happening [here], and I want to leverage the momentum,” said Sokol.
Wang said, “We’ve been talking for awhile. She was a consultant to our business [since June], and we felt it was time to put a focus on our ready-to-wear business and to continue to grow the bridal business, as well.”
Wang said a less-expensive sportswear line is being considered and would fall under Sokol’s responsibilities.
Hazzard said all of Wang’s apparel businesses presently account for $30 million in wholesale volume. The rtw is sold to 25 doors. “[Sokol] will be very aggressive in that business and will gear it up to be a serious collection business,” he said. The bridal gowns are currently distributed to 90 doors, and the bridesmaids dresses are sold in 700 doors. “She will lead our team and build the infrastructure in a way that continues to grow the business in a very profitable way,” Hazzard added.
This story first appeared in the August 12, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Laura Lee Miller continues as executive vice president of licensing for VEW Ltd., Wang’s licensing division. For the past several years, Wang has emphasized the expansion of her fashion empire through licensing. In addition to fine jewelry launched last year, the 15-year-old company has licenses for fragrance, eyewear, crystal and home.