NEW YORK — Executives at Simon Spurr are determined to move forward without the label’s namesake designer at the creative helm, in the wake of his surprise exit from the company last month.
This story first appeared in the April 3, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“We regret Simon’s unfortunate decision to leave the company. The company plans to continue without Simon and is looking towards a bright future as its business continues to mature,” wrote co-founder Judd Nydes in an e-mail to WWD, attributing the statement to the company’s board. “We are very proud of everything that has been achieved since the startup of the company and owe our gratitude to our investors, staff and clients for the phenomenal teamwork in the buildup of the Simon Spurr and Spurr brands.”
Both Spurr and Nydes declined to elaborate on the specific issues that drove the designer to resign on March 16 from the men’s brand he co-founded and helped build into a promising new player in the designer market. However, both made veiled references to disagreements or disputes among the brand’s founders and possibly with Hugo Stenbeck, a key financial backer of the company.
In an interview, Spurr said the circumstances that led to his departure “had been going on for a while” and that he “had tried to work things out” before leaving the company. The designer emphasized that he wanted the stores, factories and editors that supported the brand to know his decision was “terribly difficult” and not one that he made lightly. “I don’t want them to think I’ve abandoned them. They are like family to me,” he added.
However, Spurr said he was resolute in his departure: “My intention at this time is not to change my path. I am working with the Nydes-Spurr shareholders in an effort to find a resolution to the company situation.”
Nydes responded that Spurr has not been in touch with company officials since his exit. “Although there were certain issues surrounding his departure from the company, he hasn’t reached out to anybody to discuss a solution,” said Nydes, who runs an investment firm and launched the brand with Spurr in 2006.
Spurr remains in his outside role as men’s creative consultant for the Tommy Hilfiger runway collection. “That is unchanged. I continue to provide consulting services to Tommy Hilfiger exactly as before,” he said. “It was never my intention to join another company, despite all the speculation.”
If Spurr remains separated from his eponymous brand, his name will stay with the company, said Nydes. “The brands are owned by the company and there is a lot of work to do,” he noted.
Spurr remains an equity partner in Simon Spurr. Nydes retains an investment stake and, according to sources, so does Stenbeck, the wealthy scion of a prominent Swedish family that founded and retains large holdings in Investment AB Kinnevik, a multibillion-dollar media, telecom and paper products conglomerate. Spurr confirmed that Stenbeck holds a stake in Simon Spurr, but Nydes denied that Stenbeck is an equity partner.
“Hugo Stenbeck is part of our company, but not personally a shareholder,” said Nydes, declining to elaborate further on Stenbeck’s role. However, according to sources with knowledge of Simon Spurr’s operations, Stenbeck has been central to funding the company’s development over the past years.
An avid sailor, Stenback last summer captained a Simon Spurr-sponsored racing yacht in a series of sailing regattas. The sleek 90-foot vessel, emblazoned with bold Simon Spurr logos on its hull and sails, won races in Antigua and St. Barth’s.
“It is an extraordinary situation to secure backing for and confidence in an emerging brand in the fashion industry in the magnitude the company experienced,” noted Nydes.
According to sources, Stenbeck had appointed a Switzerland-based consulting firm called Platform Consulting, headed by Margrethe van der Stroom, to help devise strategies to meet revenue, margin and profit goals.
Spurr is currently nominated for a CFDA Menswear Designer of the Year Award and said he is looking forward to attending the ceremony on June 4. “Hell yeah. If they don’t vote for me this year, they’re not going to next year,” said the designer. “It’s now or never.”
He added that he is “looking forward with great hope and excitement toward my future within the industry as a men’s fashion designer.”