NEW YORK — Fred Wilson, the new chief executive officer of Donna Karan International, is moving quickly to restructure the company, naming two division presidents and a new design director for the Donna Karan New York brand on Tuesday —...
NEW YORK — Fred Wilson, the new chief executive officer of Donna Karan International, is moving quickly to restructure the company, naming two division presidents and a new design director for the Donna Karan New York brand on Tuesday — his sixth day on the job.
Two of the hires are familiar faces to Donna Karan: Mary Wang, a former DKNY women’s president who was most recently president of the U.S. wholesale division of Coach, will rejoin the company as president of DKNY, while Peter Speliopoulos, once Karan’s senior design director of women’s collection and accessories before taking up with the Cerruti Arte collection, was named vice president and design director for the Donna Karan New York brand. Carol Sharpe, who was executive vice president of merchandising at J. Crew until May, was also named president of retail, including licensed freestanding stores.
What’s more, Wilson said in an exclusive interview that he is simultaneously restructuring the company by realigning its two principal brands, Donna Karan New York and DKNY, into separate divisions with their own presidents. The company was previously structured by product and gender, with separate heads directing women’s, men’s and shoes and accessories for both brands.
"The significance of this announcement is not just that we’re moving quickly to shore up the infrastructure with the key hires of quality people, but also that there is a restructuring that is taking place simultaneously," said Wilson, the former president and ceo of LVMH Fashion Group, America’s, who was named ceo of DKI on Sept. 30, replacing Pino Brusone, who remains its chairman.
The corporate structure of Donna Karan has undergone significant changes since LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton acquired the American brand for $643 million last year, capped by a 7 percent workforce reduction in December. Don Witkowski, who was president of Donna Karan men’s wear, left the firm in October to join Nautica Enterprises as president, while Carol Kerner, who was president of the Donna Karan and DKNY women’s lines, resigned in May. Those positions have since remained vacant.
During his first week on the job, Wilson said, it was a clear priority to recruit heads of each brand, noting that a president of the Donna Karan New York collection will be named soon. While many DKI employees have split their time working on both Donna Karan and DKNY collections, Wilson said it makes more sense to operate by brand, with employees of each division reporting directly to a brand president, rather than multiple supervisors."This way, we’re sure we will have a better brand focus," Wilson said. "We’ll target our customer better and it will help us to be more efficient and effective as we work toward furthering the brand development."
For the second time in her career, Wang had left DKNY, where she headed the women’s line for four years, in 1999 to join Emanuel as its president, but quit shortly thereafter to join Tommy Hilfiger in its ill-fated development of a career line, and then moved to Daryl K as women’s president under its tenuous Pegasus Apparel Group ownership before landing in the more stable position at Coach. Earlier, she was vice president of merchandising at DKNY from its inception in 1989 to 1994, and has maintained a strong relationship with both Karan and Jane Chung, executive vice president of DKNY design.
"She can make very important and very quick contributions to the company," Wilson said.
Chung had once been rumored to be in line to take over as design director of Collection, during a long period of rumors that Karan would be taking a more strategic role within her own company. Wilson, who had not met Karan prior to joining DKI, said the two are off to a great start and emphasized that her position as chief designer remains intact.
"Donna remains absolutely, absolutely, positively the head of creation here," Wilson said. "We have been involved together in all of these discussions. I really value her as a partner."
Karan was involved in an advertising meeting related to DKNY on Tuesday and was not available for comment. However, she said in a statement, "Having Peter and Mary here again will allow me to work on the strategic vision and growth of our company. Both Peter and Mary played vital roles in the history and success of Donna Karan New York and DKNY, respectively. Likewise, I am confident that Carol’s new energy and expertise will greatly benefit the company."
As reported in WWD on Sept. 12, Speliopoulos was said to have been approached for the job. Most recently creative director at Cerruti Arte until December, Speliopoulos had been senior design director of women’s collection and accessories from 1993 to 1997 at Donna Karan. In his new post, he will report to Karan, Wilson and a collection president."Peter’s reputation from working here before was excellent," Wilson said. "His working relationship with Donna was excellent. Donna values him and we went after him."
While Wilson declined to outline his strategic vision for continuing the work to restore the Donna Karan labels to their former luxury status, the ceo is clearly more confident in the realm of the Karan empire than his predecessor and is considered a straight shooter, with an ability to clearly articulate a position from both business and creative standpoints, which could suit him well in dealings with Karan.
"She is smart, creative and extremely knowledgeable of the business itself, as well as the industry," Wilson said. "And she’s fun to work with. I think she’s practical, creative and very sensible in terms of understanding women. She makes a lot of sense to me."
@chanel and @pharrell dropped what’s being dubbed as the world’s most exclusive sneakers yesterday. The Adidas Originals NMD Hu, which Williams designed in collaboration with Chanel and @adidasoriginals, has a waiting list of over 120K people who pre-registered online at chanelatcolette.fr –– and only 500 pairs are on sale. The singer predicted the resale value of the shoes could reach $40K. Read the full interview on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdfashion (📷: Dominique Maître)
@imanshumpert is diving deeper into his creative endeavors and relaunching his clothing line, Post 90s, and is helping to raise money for the hurricane victims in St. Maarten with a jersey he’s designed with his brother. The Cleveland Cavaliers player talked to WWD about kneeling during the national anthem, working with fashion brands and how he wants to be more than an @nba player. Read the interview on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)
Not only does #TheProfit return to CNBC tonight, but @marcuslemonis has launched @shopmarcus, a new shopping and lifestyle retail experience in Aspen and Chicago, with more locations to come. The retail stores offer in-store stylists and a variety of contemporary womenswear selections.
“It’s life, I’m going to face it,” @mingxi11 sighed. “I fell, but you know, I think the most important thing is that I get back up. I had the love, the help from my sister — the girl next to me Gizele [Oliveira] — she’s so nice. When I went backstage everybody was trying to comfort me like ‘Oh Ming, it’s OK.’ I’m really, really touched. I think it’s them who gave me the courage to go back on stage for the finale,” Xi told WWD of her fall at the @victoriassecret fashion show. (📷: David Fisher) #wwdfashion #vsfashionshow #victoriassecret
@louisvuitton tapped @therealpeterlindbergh for its latest city-centric photo book, which is part of a series called Fashion Eye. The primarily black and white book captures the spirit of Berlin in 57 images shot between 1989 and 2019. “Berlin is an inspiration for me, more than a city. I mean @millajovovich is simply Berlin!” said Lindbergh. #wwdfashion
“You know, I think audiences expect a certain performance so I have to deliver to them what they’re expecting to a certain degree. But I’m also a different actor and a different person, I have my own spin on the character,” says @noahegalvin of his takeover of the leading role in “Dear Evan Hansen” following the departure of @bensplatt, who originated the role. Read WWD’s interview with the 23-year-old actor on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
For pre-fall 2018, @etro created richly-colored wonderland, using tapestries, textiles and wallpapers from the Eastern world at large. The line featured floral and graphic prints and jacquard motifs, like this two-piece look featured here. #wwdfashion (📷: Giovanna Pavesi)
@kith is moving into children’s. The men’s and women’s streetwear brand has launched Kidset, a Kith kids line located in New York at 64 Bleecker Street. The line includes mini versions of staple Kith pieces like the Astor bomber jacket and the Kith box logo sweatshirts, along with a wall that can display up to 120 pairs of shoes from @adidas, @newbalance, @timberland and more. #wwdfashion
“I just wanted to create this fully rounded character, but I do think what excited me most was just the opportunity to give a group of people representation that I feel needs it. I like to do characters in projects that stand for something and Karolina definitely does, so that was really exciting to me,” @ginnygardner says of her new role in @hulu’s “The Runaways.” Gardner plays Karolina Dean, a queer superhero, which is a rarity for @marvel. Read more about Gardner’s character on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @dandoperalski)