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Brigitte Bogart Returns to Bebe Stores

She will be named executive vice president of design and product development today, WWD has learned.

It’s back to Bebe Stores Inc. for Brigitte Bogart, who today will be named executive vice president of design and product development, WWD has learned.

Bogart will lead the design team in a newly created role reporting to Steve Birkhold, Bebe’s chief executive officer. She’s Birkhold’s first senior-level appointment since he became ceo six weeks ago.

Bogart served as Bebe’s senior design director from 2001 to 2009, forecasting trends and designing clothing. Officials credited her with creating some of Bebe’s best-selling items, among them the Amanda blouse, which in one calendar year sold more than 100,000 units, establishing it as one of the all-time biggest sellers for the company.

Bogart has over two decades of ready-to-wear and product development experience including stints at Laundry by Shelli Segal and the Arden B. division of The Wet Seal Inc. More recently, she founded LHM Design Inc., a fashion design and consulting company.

“When I was brought into the company, Brigitte was already working here as a consultant for about three months. She has an institutional knowledge of Bebe and a great relationship with the brand and with Manny,” Birkhold said, referring to Manny Mashouf, the founder and non-executive chairman of Bebe. “It was quickly determined that she has the skill set and pedigree to take the brand to the next level. She will be heading up design and working with me very closely on all creative aspects,” including new ad campaigns and new store concepts.

“My strength has always been in understanding the customer and being able to deliver the right product,” said Bogart. “This is an exciting opportunity to create and execute a long-term vision for bebe.”

Contemporary sportswear, Birkhold noted, “is a pretty competitive space. We have a lot of challenges going forward.”

Birkhold gave the impression that Bebe’s bigger challenge is to create exciting product, more so than further reshaping the management team. Asked if he would be making additional senior-level changes, Birkhold replied that the team is “pretty balanced.…I don’t foresee any major, major changes,” though he added some could occur through attrition.

For many years, Bebe churned out unique items that resonated with many customers. Yet in more recent years, Birkhold acknowledged that Bebe seemed to lose that knack for cutting-edge design. Now, he said, the mission is to both “make sure we are up to speed on current trends and become the brand that sets the trends.”

Bebe Stores designs, develops and produces contemporary women’s apparel and accessories under the Bebe, Bebe Sport and 2b Bebe labels. The company operates 198 Bebe stores, 52 2b Bebe stores, bebe.com and 2bstores.com. Stores are in the U.S., the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Canada and Japan. Bebe also distributes and sells its products through licensees in 21 countries.