Susan Davidson Leaves Creative Design Studio

Designer incubator ceo departs.

Susan Davidson, president and chief executive officer of the Creative Design Studio, is leaving the company, WWD has learned.

This story first appeared in the March 31, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

While the departure raises questions about the future of CDS, the company stated the decision stemmed from the ongoing consolidations of the parent Hudson’s Bay Trading Company. HBTC parent NRDC Equity Partners formed CDS in fall 2007.

“The decision was made to evolve the business model of CDS by consolidating with Lord & Taylor. As a result, Susan Davidson has decided to leave,” said a spokeswoman.

Davidson reported to Richard Baker, ceo of HBTC, which operates Lord & Taylor and The Bay. Now CDS will be managed by Lord & Taylor, but the exact line of reporting has yet to be determined.

The CDS mission is to invest in and grow new American designers, and orchestrate the proprietary brand business at Lord & Taylor and wholesale the collections as well. The proprietary program includes the Context and Kate Hill women’s collection, designed by Jeff Mahshie, and Black Brown 1826 men’s wear, designed by Joseph Abboud.

The CDS stable of designers not long ago included Peter Som, Bryan Bradley and Cynthia Steffe, none of whom are affiliated with CDS any longer. CDS launched the Bryan by Bryan Bradley collection, which was discontinued. Mahshie took over Steffe’s role in designing the two private labels, and Som did his own collection, which was not sold at L&T. Each designer had a different arrangement with CDS.

It is possible CDS begins to lease some of its 109,000 square feet in the Starrett-Lehigh Building on Manhattan’s West Side overlooking the Hudson River.

Prior to joining CDS, Davidson spent 10-and-a-half years at Liz Claiborne, most recently managing about $1.5 billion worth of business as group president for denim and nonapparel. She is also a former president of DKNY Jeans.