This story first appeared in the September 30, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
When Paula Sutter joined Diane von Furstenberg as president about 10 years ago, she was thinking about more than DVF’s famous wrap dress. Sutter knew how important the dress was to the brand, but she also knew there was a larger story to tell, about the designer and the DNA of the brand, so she spent her first year focused on rebranding and getting rid of old licenses.
“We used the history of the brand to create a valuable and sustainable future,” Sutter said.
The company has since cultivated a strong design team and works with licenses, when necessary. “We want to fill a niche instead of being a brand that is all things to all consumers,” added Sutter.
DVF has stayed with its wrap dress, a “core competency,” but has since expanded into a global luxury lifestyle brand. The company is headquartered in New York, and there are 29 freestanding boutiques worldwide, with more on the way.
“Organic growth is critical,” said Sutter. “We want a balanced portfolio of department and specialty stores. We are also constant re-assessors of pricing and merchandise.”
Looking ahead, Sutter said the company will focus on fragrance, as well as entertaining, home and beauty. And DVF is looking at the Web and all the possibilities to come there.
“Diane is a techy,” said Sutter. “She’s constantly looking at new technologies. We have a lot more to do there.”