Kent & Curwen, the British heritage brand resurrected in the U.S. and Europe by a subsidiary of Star Branding LLC, has tapped Simon Spurr as creative director and senior vice president. Effective immediately, the designer will oversee product design as well as work on store development, marketing and other creative aspects of the brand.
This story first appeared in the September 16, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Spurr succeeds Michael Sondag, who exited the New York-based company earlier this month in order to move back to Europe. This newest incarnation of Kent & Curwen, which has a history dating to 1926, ramped up last year, with the first product hitting stores this fall. Key wholesale partners are Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom and Harrods, in addition to a number of independent specialty stores.
“I think there’s a great platform that’s been built. I want to honor the heritage of the brand but also, by default, make it slightly more modern,” said Spurr, who was at the Milano Unica fabric fair last week already preparing the fall 2014 collection. “I think it’ll be an extension of what’s been established. It won’t be a major shift, but we can modernize it while respecting the heritage.”
Spurr was most recently men’s creative consultant at Tommy Hilfiger, working on the runway collections for five seasons, a position he exited at the beginning of this year. Hilfiger, who is an owner of Star Branding, recommended Spurr to Craig Reynolds, president of British Heritage Brands LLC, the New York-based entity set up to operate the Kent & Curwen business.
“We call ourselves ‘heritage with the dust blown off,’ and Simon seemed to be such a perfect fit,” said Reynolds.
Spurr, who was born in Kent, England, previously helmed his own label from 2006 to 2012, garnering acclaim in the men’s market for his English-inflected tailoring and upscale sportswear. That venture broke apart when Spurr quit the brand last year due to differences with financial partner Judd Nydes. The rift was a shock in that Spurr had just been nominated for the CFDA’s Menswear Designer of the Year prize.
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Globally, the Kent & Curwen brand is strongest in Asia, where it is owned by Hong Kong-based Trinity Ltd., a publicly traded men’s retail group that also owns Cerruti 1881 and Gieves & Hawkes. Trinity operates more than 100 Kent & Curwen stores in Asia, 30 of which are converting their merchandise assortments this season to newer British Heritage Brands designs.
Trinity has licensed Kent & Curwen to British Heritage Brands for the U.S. and European markets. British Heritage Brands is a unit of Star Branding, a brand management company owned by Hilfiger, his brother Andy Hilfiger and Joe Lamastra, among others.
LF USA handles back-office functions for Kent & Curwen, including information technology and payroll operations. China’s Fung family has substantial stakes in both LF USA’s parent company, Li & Fung Ltd., and Trinity Ltd.
Kent & Curwen will open a 1,500-square-foot store at 2 Savile Row next month. In the spring, a 2,100-square-foot New York flagship will open at 816 Madison Avenue. It was designed by the late David Collins and was the last project overseen by the interior decorator before his death in July, said Reynolds.
A previous Kent & Curwen store that Trinity operated in London’s Piccadilly Arcade closed in June, as part of the new license agreement.