81. Richard Cohen
Richard Cohen is confident about his latest act. The recently appointed president and CEO of Robert Talbott plans to turn the Carmel, Calif.–based neckwear and dress shirtmaker into the “Hermès of America.”
That’s a tall order but one that Cohen is well positioned to achieve. As chief executive officer of Zegna North America, he played an important role in transforming the brand into a powerhouse men’s luxury label, growing Zegna’s U.S. business from $13 million in 1986, the year he joined the company, to $200 million when he left 16 years later. Following a similar pattern, Cohen aims to double Talbott’s business—estimated at $50 million annually—by 2012 or earlier, with plans to explore the international market, expand the women’s collection, open additional retail stores and launch a consumer advertising campaign.
Along the way, look for Cohen to make the quality shirts and handmade ties for which Robert Talbott is known a bit more relevant, showcasing shirts on hangers and presenting ties as accessories to sportswear, as the company makes the most of the recent resurgence of the tie business. Last year’s rank: None. Power prediction: Cohen moves quickly to raise Robert Talbott’s profile early in 2008. Make way for the steady surge of an authentic American luxury brand.
82. Jeff Manby
Kohl’s recently announced a five-year strategic growth plan for 2008 through 2012 that calls for a national presence of 1,400 stores and compounded annual sales growth of 9 to 11 percent on top of its 2006 sales of$15.5 billion. The men’s area, now led by Jeff Manby, executive vice-president and GMM of men’s and children’s, will continue its focus on successful brands, including Chaps, apt. 9 and Tony Hawk, and will increase its men’s activewear offerings and teen business.
Kohl’s has continued to gain market share in dress clothing and plans to expand these assortments by introducing new brands. With the success of Chaps, launched in 2005, Kohl’s has targeted the label for future growth, and has added updated lifestyle fixturing to showcase the brand in each of its locations. Kohl’s is also highlighting apt. 9 with new fixtures. Other labels that figure into Kohl’s men’s growth plans are its private or proprietary brands, Tony Hawk, Urban Pipeline and Sonoma.
Manby took over the top men’s post in September, as his predecessor, Donald Brennan, was rewarded for a job well done by a promotion to senior executive vice-president overseeing all merchandising divisions. Last year’s rank: 68 (for Donald Brennan). Power Projection: Buoyed by the success of its men’s exclusive brands, Kohl’s will look for more partnerships in 2008.
83. Michael Kors
After the death of the Michael men’s wear division last year, Michael Kors’ eponymous company intended to focus its energies on the original label. Indeed, the subsequent designer collection for fall ’07 was a smash hit with critics.
The New York designer may still have his sights on the distant threshold of the billion-dollar-brand club (industry sources say the wholesale business for Michael Kors Inc. is close to $400 million), but his company is progressing by steadier steps nowadays. For example, it launched a selection of pieces from the fall 2007 men’s collection on Michaelkors.com in August. The site had been e-commerce capable for a year, but men’s wear had never been available through it before.
The designer will launch a new capsule line called Michael Kors 1981 (named for the year in which the company was founded) in stores in February. The line is said to be classic and casual, providing chic and comfortable options for men to wear on the weekend.
Some excellent publicity never hurts. A Michael Kors charcoal flannel cashmere suit was selected by popular vote to be worn by the groom and groomsmen in the most recent Today show’s televised wedding ceremony. They also wore silver silk ties, white cotton broadcloth shirts and stainless-steel chronograph watches, all from Michael Kors. (The groom wore a lighter tie.) Although his men’s business remains relatively modest, as a regular judge on the TV show Project Runway, Kors is decidedly “in.” Last year’s rank: 73. Power prediction: Kors makes inroads with his top-tier collection and the 1981 label.
84. Bob Wichser
Last month Bob Wichser, president and CEO of Sean John, was bumped up to the role of principal at The Yucaipa Cos., the private-equity firm that holds a significant stake in the urban fashion brand. The move was a signal of confidence in the 35-year industry veteran by Yucaipa, which is managed by Ron Burkle, the billionaire supermarket mogul and Democratic Party fundraiser. Apart from Sean John, Wichser will now oversee the private-equity firm’s other fashion investments, which include the jewelers Garrard and Stephen Webster, specialty retailer Scoop and designer label Zac Posen. He will seek out potential new fashion investments for the fund as well. Wichser is remaining in his current management role at Sean John until a new CEO is found, likely by the end of this year, and he will continue to play an important role at Sean John in his new position as principal at Yucaipa.
Since taking the top job at Sean John in 2005, Wichser has improved deliveries and customer service, streamlined sourcing operations, signed a number of new licenses—including eyewear, underwear and juniors’—and helped oversee the rollout of the brand’s blockbuster Unforgivable men’s and women’s fragrances from Estée Lauder. According to the company, Sean John now rings up over $500 million in retail sales annually, although some observers question the accuracy of that figure. Last year’s rank: 86. Power prediction: The buttoned-up Wichser spent many years running the Joseph Abboud business, which is now up for sale again. Wouldn’t it be ironic if Yucaipa invested in the company and Wichser returned to his old stomping ground?
85. Roger Cohen and the Corneliani family
Corneliani’s journey from high-end Italian suit manufacturer to luxury brand was not happenstance; Roger Cohen, president and COO of Corneliani’s North American operations, had to prove the brand could compete in the lifestyle market. Through well-managed relationships with top retailers, market research, smart timing and just the right amount of creative intuition, Corneliani created the ID Jacket—a dual-purpose sport coat—and with it an entire category that now generates 25 percent of revenue.
The arrival of ID not only helped solidify Corneliani’s brand status but also helped boost the top line by drawing new retailers to its core tailored offerings as well. A stock program and a 20 percent increase on the year in advertising spending further support Corneliani’s sales trajectory. Consolidated global sales are expected to reach 150 million euros, or $200 million, this year, up 16.3 percent from 2006. U.S. revenue is up about 10 percent on the year at $38 million.
While a U.S. store, possibly in New York or L.A., is still a couple of years away, Corneliani is taking advantage of retail opportunities around the world. Next month it will open its first London unit on Bond Street and plans to have a retail network of 100 stores (directly operated and in franchising) within the next five to six years. Last year’s rank: 87. Power prediction: The company has hit its stride with its ID collection, but it now must focus on the Next Big Thing and that very likely could be a U.S. flagship.
86. The Mitchells
With a trifecta of stores—Mitchells in Westport, Conn.; Richards of Greenwich, Conn.; and Marshs in Huntington, N.Y.—and annual sales in excess of $80 million, the Mitchell family continues to hold its own as a power player among independent specialty store retailers. Proving its management and merchandising prowess once again, volume at Marshs has doubled since the Mitchells acquired it in 2005. The family, which also operates the Vineyard Vines store down the block from Richards on Greenwich Avenue, is always looking to expand its reach. While enhancing the “ultimate customer experience” in existing stores remains the focus, the right opportunity could definitely entice the family to acquire again, co-president Bob Mitchell said, though he wouldn’t say where. Continued “strong growth” in the Connecticut stores is aligned with the untouchable momentum of high-end apparel, which has “played right into our strategy of driving luxury business with phenomenal customer service,” he said.
Unstable results among other retailers, however, make the Mitchells cautious. “That’s one reason we’re not so crazy about opening tons of locations,” Bob Mitchell said. “Being here and being hands-on lets us raise the customer experience, increase volume and build relationships, which is what we are about. We don’t want to jeopardize that by doing too much.”
The original Mitchells store, the family’s first foray into retailing, opened in 1958 in a modest 800-square-foot location in Westport. Over the years their reach has spread exponentially but their focus has remained the same: superior customer service, unparalleled enthusiasm and an entrepreneurial spirit. Chairman Jack Mitchell, Bob’s father, willingly shared his experiences and advice in a successful book entitled Hug Your Customers and is currently preparing a sequel, Hug Your People, a tribute to the company’s superior sales staff. That book is slated to be published next spring. Last year’s rank: 77. Power prediction: The Mitchells pick up another specialty store in the New England area.
87. Neil Cole
Neil Cole, CEO of Iconix Brand Group, is the consumate power player—albeit a lower-profile one than his brother Ken—thanks to his significant maneuvers in men’s wear. Once known exclusively for its junior footwear label, Candie’s, Iconix has strategically stacked up its pile of apparel brands, using a unique model to license each one—and manufacture nothing.
In the last 12 months, Cole has taken a swipe at the young men’s market, taking on the legendary surf brand OP, as well as the high-profile hip-hop staple Rocawear. Iconix has also revived the historic London Fog brand, and re-launched it this fall at Macy’s, Dillard’s and Nordstrom.
Investors seem pleased with Cole’s ability to execute on his word, which after his most recent purchase of Official Pillowtex in September, included the promise that Iconix would “continue to be acquisitive” in 2007. Analysts expect revenues to hit $160 million for the year, doubling its revenues for 2006.
Rumors in the marketplace have Cole now eyeing the small but steadily growing streetwear label Artful Dodger, though details are still pending. Last year’s rank: None. Power prediction: The young men’s market can be a difficult place to survive as an outsider—look at Kellwood’s awkward struggles with Phat Farm or the bed-jumping Enyce as examples. Expect some growing pains with Rocawear and OP as Iconix struggles to get its arms around a fickle teen male consumer.
88. David Levin
A new addition to the list, David Levin, CEO of Casual Male Retail Group Inc., has proven his prowess for the men’s big & tall business since purchasing the company in 2002. Before Levin took the reins, the company had filed for bankruptcy twice and was struggling, despite the fact that the b&t demographic was growing by leaps and bounds. Levin was head of Designs Inc., which was the exclusive outlet resource for Levi’s and Dockers products, but that business too was floundering. He was looking for an alternative challenge and jumped at the opportunity to take on Casual Male.
With over 500 stores and annual sales in excess of $430 million, Casual Male is the leading specialty retailer in the b&t industry. Levin has spearheaded a number of initiatives in the past few years, including the 2004 purchase of Rochester Big & Tall, for the more-upscale customer, and the rebranding of the flagship chain with a new name—Casual Male XL—and design. The company also tweaked its merchandise offerings to focus more on successful national brands, such as Perry Ellis America, Geoffrey Beene, Izod and Reebok, while beefing up its private-label penetration. These include Harbor Bay for commodity product; Synrgy, a more contemporary offering; 626 Blue for young men; and a higher-priced sportswear collection called Oak Hill hit stores this fall.
Last year, the company bought Jared M., a line of high-end b&t men’s wear, targeting athletes and celebrities with a luxurious assortment of custom-made sportswear, outerwear, footwear and tailored clothing. Levin bolstered Jared M.’s infrastructure, retained its celebrity cachet in a revamped New York showroom, and added a complementary selection of ready-to-wear to the Rochester stores. Levin is also embracing the Internet with the addition of Casual Male’s catalog, Big & Tall Factory Direct, a retail and e-commerce concept with prices 25 percent below Casual Male, and Living XL, a catalog of non-apparel products for “people of size,” offering such items as scales, seat-belt extenders, wraparound towels and other products for the big & tall customer. Levin’s most recent project was the opening last month of a new store prototype for Rochester, which focuses more on in-store visuals and lifestyle presentations. Last year’s rank: None. Power prediction: David Levin works the same magic in the large-size women’s market.
89. Dov Charney
If there’s anyone in the apparel world who seems incongruous in an executive management role in a public company, it’s Dov Charney, American Apparel Inc.’s outlandish and mustachioed founder and CEO. But the investment firm Endeavor Acquisition Corp. was apparently willing to overlook Charney’s well-documented antics and focused instead on explosive growth potential when it announced plans in December to purchase the Los Angeles–based, vertically integrated casualwear giant for $382.5 million.
The merger has strengthened the company’s worldwide presence, which now counts some 157 stores in 11 countries. And in the face of double-digit increases in same-store sales for the first half of 2007, the company has managed to retain its indie cachet. Second-quarter revenue totaled $96.5 million, a 35 percent rise over the year-ago period. The company’s much-lauded anti-sweatshop image continues to lure socially conscious youth to its retro tube socks, headbands and short-shorts. Last year’s rank: None. Power prediction: The success of American Apparel, an otherwise ordinary line of wardrobe basics, is a direct result of Charney’s tawdry-but-genius ads, not to mention his cult of personality that excites some as it turns off others. Don’t expect him to go mute.
90. Mervyn Mandelbaum
Mervyn Mandelbaum has had much to celebrate this year. The former CEO and controlling shareholder of Superba Inc.—one of the worlds’ largest and most successful neckwear companies—kicked off the New Year with the sale of his privately held company to Phillips-Van Heusen Corp. for $110 million in cash, plus a roughly $70 million earnout to be dispensed over a three-year period. Under Mandelbaum—a native South African who says he began working at his father’s neckwear company at the tender age of 3—Superba had, in the five years prior to its acquisition, experienced consistent annual high-single-digit sales increases, controlled more than 40 percent market share of the neckwear business in department stores, and was generating total annual sales of roughly $140 million.
Yet Mandelbaum, a tenacious and self-described “tie-cologist” who single-handedly resurrected Superba from a beleaguered company to a neckwear leader in the ’80s, is not one to rest on his laurels. Mandelbaum knew the only way to continue to grow Superba’s neckwear business was to join forces with PVH, which controlled coveted labels like Calvin Klein, Izod and Eagle. For their part, PVH gained access to Superba’s advanced design and sourcing capabilities as well as licenses like Ike Behar, Ted Baker and Valentino in addition to brands like Arrow, DKNY, and Original Penguin.
The newly formed PVH Neckwear Group, of which Mandelbaum is now CEO, produces in excess of 20 million ties annually—through both its luxury Insignia Group and Superba division—and continues to grow market share and influence. PVH’s total revenue jumped 20 percent in the second quarter of 2007 to $552.4 million versus $458.9 million in the prior year and shows no signs of slowing down. Last year’s rank: 84. Power prediction: PVH’s newly acquired neckwear business will continue to exceed expectations and represent a platform for growth through the pursuit of new licensing opportunities and the expansion of its luxury business under the Insignia Design Group.
91. Jeff Lubell
That denim snobs often snarl upon the sight of True Religion’s back pocket horseshoe logo seems of little import to CEO and founder Jeff Lubell, who is transforming the brand from premium denim powerhouse into lifestyle juggernaut. His tactics were twofold: Aggressively expand into direct retail and develop a stable of non-denim wares. Fifteen branded stores are expected by year’s end in Las Vegas, Houston, Dallas and other cities that still worship the brand’s luxe cachet (compare that with 7 For All Mankind’s one door, scheduled to open next month). True Religion also scored licensing deals for handbags with Jacobs & Leslie Hsu Designs and a scent with Selective Fragrances.
As is the case with high-end denim, the days of explosive growth may be over for the company. But recent financial results are nothing to sniff at. After a disappointing first quarter, the Vernon, Calif.–based company saw double-digit revenue increases in Q2 and Q3 of 2007, and projects net sales of $167 million by year’s end—a 17 percent jump over last year.
Lubell has stocked his executive team with talented retail titans, including the March hiring of chief financial officer Peter Collins, the former corporate controller of Nordstrom. Last year’s rank: 85. Power prediction: Double-digit quarterly growth will provide the necessary cash flow for Lubell to dive deeper into direct retail. Expect a greater influx of doors nationwide.
92. Morris Goldfarb
Expecting to top $500 million in men’s and women’s volume this year, and with a portfolio of brands that includes such marquee names as Calvin Klein, Kenneth Cole and Sean Jean, among others, G-III Apparel Group’s Morris Goldfarb not only holds the title of king of the U.S. leather outerwear business, but also a few other crowns as well for wool and down-filled jackets.
This past year, the company’s active and sportswear divisions have grown dramatically as the executive continues to diversify into more men’s and women’s classifications and price points. The company’s prize performer this year has been its Calvin Klein label, while its Kenneth Cole brand has also grown by over 20 percent.
Goldfarb also points to sports licensing as a hot growth category and G-III’s holdings include the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB franchises. In addition, the collegiate market has also fueled G-III’s volume this year, with its Black Rivet contemporary/premium collection making sharp gains along with the growing success of the company’s Exsto business with Wal-Mart. What pleases Goldfarb most was having his company named number 81 on last month’s Forbes Magazine list of the 200 Best Small Companies. Last year’s rank: 90. Power prediction: A return to the Forbes list—and the Power 100.
93. Sally Frame Kasaks
When Sally Frame Kasaks erased the “interim” from her CEO title at Pacific Sunwear Inc. in May, she knew she had her work cut out for her as head of the surf/skate retail giant. Stock prices have floundered as total company store comps slid last year by 4.7 percent, largely due to abysmal performance of the company’s urban-focused demo stores and runaway growth by mall-based competitors like Zumiez.
Now Pacific Sunwear may be doing away with its offshoot streetwear retailer all together: Last week the company announced it was exploring strategic alternatives that may include a possible sale of the chain, along with the outright closure of its one thousand steps concept that never took flight. In the company’s PacSun doors, cluttered racks, tinny sound systems and poor lighting were also on Kasaks’ to-fix list, and judging by recent months of mostly positive comps, the ex-Ann Taylor CEO’s strategy might be paying off. In September, Pacific Sunwear bucked the industry-wide trend of sluggish sales, posting a 2.7 percent gain in same-store sales (the company’s PacSun chain saw a 5.4 percent gain, but was weighed down yet again by double-digit slides in demo comps). With $1.45 billion in annual revenue, the retailer is still the go-to choice for core surf/skate apparel among millions of American teens. Last year’s rank: 80. Power prediction: Offloading demo will only serve to bolster the company’s viability.
94. Jeffrey Spiegel
Jeffrey Spiegel and Randa Accessories—the company where he has served as president for more than 20 years—started 2007 on fragile footing. Randa licensor and dress shirt giant Phillips-Van Heusen had finalized its acquisition of neckwear company Superba in January, fueling industry speculation that the deal would negatively impact Randa’s licensing portfolio of neckwear and leather goods. Yet Spiegel defied critics’ expectations, leading Randa into one of its strongest growth periods to date. Under Spiegel’s strategic leadership, Randa has generated growth in all classifications and brands and is predicting volume of $390 million this year, up from roughly $240 million in 2006.
Spiegel’s no-nonsense, hands-on approach to management has helped the accessory giant to acquire 14 new brands this year and expand into the luggage category—a lifestyle coup that has allowed Randa to enter the luxury market through licenses under the Diane Von Furstenberg, Polo Ralph Lauren, Tommy Bahama and Nautica labels. Spiegel has also helped Randa build and grow a number of their proprietary brands this year, including the more contemporary Little Black Tie and the Countess Mara neckwear label, which the company re-launched this year. And just recently, Randa obtained the license to manufacture men’s and boy’s belts, wallets and other small leather goods under PVH’s Van Heusen label. Through strategic acquisitions, the creation of a global marketing department and significant new hires and promotions, Spiegel has positioned Randa as a major industry player, poised to become a full-blown lifestyle manufacturer, distributor and marketer. Last year’s rank: 89. Power prediction: The modest, low-key Spiegel will show his aggressive side in making further acquisitions.
95. Richard Woolcott
Now more than two years after having taken his company public, Richard “Wooly” Woolcott has gotten the hang of helming Volcom under the peering eyes of investors. Thanks to the company’s trendsetting men’s wear, growing women’s line and European branch—now under Volcom’s control—analysts expect Wooly’s 16-year-old boardsports brand to rake in $284 million in sales in 2007, making the CEO anything but the anti-establishment young man that Volcom speaks to. Still, unlike many of his company’s publicly traded counterparts—some of them within the action-sports industry themselves—Wooly is largely accessible and continues to keep his feet in the surf, whether that means dressing up like a punk rocker on the ASR show floor or participating in the annual “Sloshabout” surf contest during SIMA’s Surf Summit.
Of course, maneuvering the waves of the surf industry isn’t all fun and games; Volcom has struggled as its largest retail partner, Pacific Sunwear, has long been under dark clouds. In recent months, though, PacSun seems to have regained its footing, finally posting positive same-store sales for the back-to-school season. Last year’s rank: 99. Power prediction: Clearly a passion of its CEO, Volcom’s environmentally friendly V.co.logical line gets more expansive each season. With his high-profile position and his company’s deep pockets, expect Wooly to take on a larger role in the action-sports industry’s efforts toward green apparel.
96. Yul Ku
There’s a reason that Yul Ku’s name is so often followed in print by the moniker “Korean Godfather” of the denim business. His privately held company, the South Gate, Calif.–based Koos Mfg., has evolved into a $100 million, 700-employee powerhouse with brands like Big Star and AG Adriano Goldschmied (Ku bought the rights to the denim guru’s name in 2004 when Goldschmied left to found another brand, GoldSign). AG Jeans has spawned its own network of direct retail stores, which will total 17 full-price units and six outlets by yearend. But the biggest score this year for Ku, 56, was a much sought-after U.S. distribution deal with Scotch & Soda, the Amsterdam sportswear dynamo that’s now sold in 350 stateside doors like Atrium, Kitson, Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue.
A four-decade veteran of the apparel industry, Ku began his career in his parents’ knitwear factory in South Korea. His 28-year-old son, Sam, designs men’s wear for AG. Last year’s rank: None. Power prediction: Impressive growth in U.S. sales for the moderately priced Scotch & Soda line may motivate Koos Mfg. to go after additional distribution rights of up-and-coming labels.
97. Kevin Plank
Now that Under Armour has positioned itself firmly in the wholesale activewear market, the company, which emerged on the scene in 1995, is turning to retail. Under Armour will open its first store this month in Annapolis, Md., near Baltimore, the company’s hometown.
Under Armour has grown by leaps and bounds since Kevin Plank, CEO and a former University of Maryland football player and business major, started his company in 1996 because he knew athletes needed a shirt that provided compression and moisture wicking. Retailers loved it, giving the brand prime placement in their stores, and the compression shirt sparked an industry trend among activewear companies.
Sales hit $430.7 million in fiscal 2006, a 53.2 percent increase over fiscal 2005, with net income up nearly 100 percent to $39 million, and Under Armour is looking for another strong year in fiscal 2007 with sales projections of $580 million to $590 million. Last year’s rank: None. Power projection: With Under Armour’s strong name recognition, its first foray into retail will succeed and the company will follow with more stores.
98. Jonas Bevacqua and Robert Wright
LRG, headed by Jonas Bevacqua and Robert Wright, has always defied simple categorization. Is it street? Skate? Sport? Who cares? Whatever it is, it’s cool, judging by its meteoric rise to $175 million in sales and dominance in retailers from Macy’s to surf/skate leaders like Zumiez.
Founded in 1999 and acronymic for Lifted Research Group, the Lake Forest, Calif.–based brand has a body-length lead against its action-sports and streetwear competitors, result of 29-year-old Bevacqua’s creative genius and LRG’s rabid consumer fan base, which includes hip-hop moguls like Kanye West. It’s hardly an upstart brand anymore, but LRG’s voluminous line—the company produces a reported 50 to 60 new styles a month—spans anything from ultra-prep cardigans to horror film–inspired hoodies and Native American prints, giving it an unpredictability that keeps competitors like Crooks & Castles and Akademiks on their respective toes. Last year’s rank: 100. Power prediction: International sales, which currently account for only 15 percent of overall revenue, will balloon, as will sales of Luxirie, LRG’s year-old women’s line.
99. Julian Geiger
Although Aeropostale has faced challenges this year Julian Geiger, CEO, continues to move the $1.4 billion chain forward. In addition to hiring Mindy Meads as the new president and chief merchandising officer, the teen retailer entered the international market for the first time this year, expanding into Canada. Geiger, who oversees 795 Aeropostale stores in 47 states, 11 stores in Canada and 14 Jimmy’Z stores, said he sees “an emerging and large international opportunity north of the border. The land mass is greater then the U.S., but the population is about one-tenth as big. So if we think we can have 1,000 stores in the U.S., we can definitely have up to 100 stores in Canada.”
This optimism, however, has not extended to Jimmy’Z, a California lifestyle concept the company launched in 2005. Geiger admitted at the annual meeting in June that: “We haven’t been totally happy with merchandise at Jimmy’Z. We’re continuing to modify the assortment.” In fact, one analyst said the concept seemed “stalled” as the corporation focuses on its flagship chain.
The company is currently rolling out a new prototype store for Aeropostale featuring skylights, floor-to-ceiling stretches of bamboo and lifestyle graphics that are designed to appeal to teens’ curiosity with a “sense of discovery.” Plans to open a West Coast distribution center in Los Angeles were announced this year, as well as the implementation of a new allocation system.
Net income at the company rose 27 percent last year to $106.6 million, on a 17 percent sales jump to $1.4 billion. Total sales have grown significantly from less than $200 million in 1999 when the company went public. In the first quarter, profits skyrocketed 64.4 percent to $13.8 million from $8.4 million in the same year-ago quarter. Sales climbed 12 percent to $275.8 million from $246.3 million, while same-store sales gained 2.5 percent. Last year’s rank: 93. Power prediction: Geiger pulls the plug on Jimmy’Z next year.
100. Joseph Abboud
Abboud hasn’t sold a stitch of his new men’s wear line, Jaz, but the two-time CFDA winner nabs the last spot on the Power 100 by dint of its strong promise—and because of the amount of attention he has already drawn to the label. The designer has a solid track record, growing his namesake brand of stylish apparel for the American guy into an $80 million business—a business which he famously sold in 2000, filed lawsuits over in 2004 and left permanently in 2005. Still, the guy knows how to make and market clothes. For his new project, to launch fall 2008, Abboud has already invested some of his considerable personal fortune acquiring a shirt factory in Fall River, Mass., as well as another facility in Elmsford, N.Y., that will produce the line’s sportswear. He’s also arrayed some solid licenses: J.S. Blank & Co. for neckwear, Cardinal of Canada for outerwear and Jack Victor for tailored clothing.
“We are positioning this as a luxury collection with accessible prices. It fills that void between American designers and a brand like Zegna,” noted Abboud in an interview with DNR. For a designer synonymous with men’s wear, Abboud’s return to market will be one of the closely watched stories of 2008. Last year’s rank: None. Power prediction: No matter the outcome of the current trademark infringement case with JA Apparel, Abboud’s reputation as a salable designer will open doors for Jaz. Expect prominent placement in key department and specialty stores.