Liz Claiborne Inc.’s purchase of Ellen Tracy is a homecoming of sorts for Glenn McMahon, the division’s new president, and Gail Cook, who now oversees Ellen Tracy as group president of bridge brands.
Both McMahon, who had been president of Claiborne’s Kenneth Cole women’s sportswear line, and Cook spent time at Ellen Tracy earlier in their careers, although not at the same time. They will now work together on making sure the Linda Allard Ellen Tracy and Company Ellen Tracy brands — with combined net sales of $171 million in 2001 — continue running smoothly and maintain their position as category leaders.
Company founder Herbert Gallen will continue to serve as chairman, and his wife, Linda Allard, remains as design director, as reported. Following prolonged negotiations, Claiborne bought Ellen Tracy on Sept. 30 for about $180 million, ending its 53-year run as a privately held company.
After just one week on the job at the Ellen Tracy showroom here at 1441 Broadway, the same building that houses Liz Claiborne’s $3.4 billion apparel empire, McMahon and Cook talked about what it’s like to come back to the firm and where they see it going.
The duo emphasized that it will largely be "business as usual," as the two apparel companies are still in the process of getting acquainted and looking for ways to share business practices, while maintaining the spirit and identity of Ellen Tracy.
"I haven’t been here for eight years, so I’ve spent the last week meeting with as many people as I can, having small group conversations and one-on-one conversations," said McMahon, who also had stints at Giorgio Armani and Donna Karan. "Transitions and changes are never easy, particularly for a company that has been around for 53 years. But the willingness and openness of everyone has been encouraging and in the end, we have a shared common goal. That’s the integrity and quality of the Ellen Tracy brand, and I think there’s a very good partnership to carry this forward."
In his new role, McMahon is responsible for sales, design, marketing and production, reporting to Cook, who also oversees the Dana Buchman and Sigrid Olsen divisions, including spearheading corporate initiatives and making sure each brand maintains its own individuality and runs smoothly."Basically, the general operation is not going to change at all," said Cook, who started as Gallen’s administrative assistant in 1978, then worked in sales and helped launch the petite division over a nine-year period. "We will look for certain types of synergies trying to find things that Liz Claiborne and Ellen Tracy do the same, we might do collectively. Maybe that would occur in sourcing and some back-end synergies. In other words, anything the consumer sees or is the culture of Ellen Tracy must stay the same — first and foremost."
Cook and McMahon both said that returning to Ellen Tracy is something special.
"It’s like a full circle," said Cook. "One thing that has always been extraordinary about the company is its longevity and all the familiar faces that work here. The brand has evolved in so many ways yet so much of the culture has remained so much the same.
"But my role is much more on the corporate side and running the back-end. Glenn and I know each other very well from working at Liz Claiborne and we have 17 years combined working here at Ellen Tracy. We know a lot of the same people and our working relationship and that synergy is very simple and streamlined."
McMahon, whose new home is just nine floors down from the Kenneth Cole showroom where he worked just before, added: "The good news is we know a lot of the players here, so it’s really ‘roll up your sleeves’ and get to know one another and take it from here."
Plans for Ellen Tracy include looking for additional licensing opportunities, expanding the casual apparel line, opening Ellen Tracy flagship stores and expanding internationally. There are six existing Ellen Tracy licenses for fragrance, shoes, eyewear, hosiery, belts and scarves.
"It’s not a matter of what comes first, it’s really a conjunction of all of those goals," McMahon added. "There are existing licensing arrangements now, and I want to look at them and see where opportunities exist. Handbags and jewelry might be a possibility. They don’t exist now and they could be licensed or done in-house."
@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