Guess Inc. has filled one of two remaining vacancies in its executive ranks with the appointment of longtime Victoria’s Secret executive Sharleen Ernster Lazear as chief design officer of the Los Angeles-based jeanswear and sportswear company.
This story first appeared in the May 1, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Lazear will be responsible for all categories of merchandise for the Guess and Marciano brands, including licensed products, and will report to Paul Marciano, cofounder and chief executive officer.
“We are very happy to welcome Sharleen to guide a strong vision for Guess brands, and I will work side-by-side with her,” Marciano said. “She understands the Guess aesthetic and the importance of creativity and innovation at Guess as well as how important our design heritage is to us for the last 30 years. She brings a new level of leadership in design, beginning with concept all the way through to market. She has a successful track record of designing brand-right product that captures the emotions of the consumer.”
Lazear’s appointment is the second of two planned by the company following the departure in March of Nancy Shachtman as president of North America. In April, Hillary Super joined the company as senior vice president and general merchandise manager. Separately, Marciano said during the company’s first-quarter earnings call on March 20 that the firm would hire a new chief operating officer to succeed Michael Prince, who resigned from the post in November.
Lazear has spent 13 years with Victoria’s Secret, a unit of L Brands Inc., formerly Limited Brands Inc., most recently as executive vice president of design.
“Growing up in rural south Texas, Guess was the first and the only brand to introduce me and the American public to sexy, confident apparel designed with European taste and quality,” she commented. “Its imagery and product offer shaped not only my personal style and aesthetic, but also that of the globe’s.”
Lazear and Super step into their roles as Guess attempts to make its way back from a year of falling profits and sales as it battled macroeconomic headwinds in southern Europe and Korea and internal challenges with its large denim and accessories businesses. Profits last year dipped a third, to $178.8 million, as revenues dropped 1.1 percent to $2.66 billion.