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Peter Rizzo to Consult With Saks

Saks Fifth Avenue has brought one of men’s wear’s most seasoned executives into the fold to help reinvent its private label business.

NEW YORK — Saks Fifth Avenue has brought one of men’s wear’s most seasoned executives into the fold to help reinvent its private label business.

This story first appeared in the November 10, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Peter Rizzo, who cut his teeth at Barneys New York, Bergdorf Goodman and Polo Ralph Lauren, has joined Saks as a consultant for its men’s private label merchandise. He will work closely with Tom Ott, senior vice president and general merchandise manager of men’s and home, and Eric Jennings, men’s fashion director, to develop the concept and offerings for next year.

The move reunites Rizzo with Ron Frasch, president and chief merchandising officer of Saks. The two worked closely together at Bergdorf when Frasch was chief executive officer and Rizzo was president and vice chairman.

“We were a team — a good team,” Frasch said. “Peter is known as the tastemaker in the industry, and I am thrilled to be working with him again. He has transformed the way American men dress by introducing and developing the most prominent designer brands in the men’s wear industry. I have the utmost confidence in his ability to support the development of our men’s private label business.”

According to Ott, “Since I began my retail career, I have always thought of Peter as the man who revolutionized men’s wear in America. I am excited to work with him on our private label initiative, as I know, through his strength in vendor relationships and passion for stores, he will be able to bring Saks’ vision for men’s private label to life.”

At Saks, Rizzo will be responsible for creating a cohesive package of men’s private label merchandise across all categories. He will work with current vendors and seek out new resources, selecting color palettes, fabrications, design and sizing for the collection. Additionally, he will work in tandem with Jennings and the Saks men’s merchandising team to tell a cohesive seasonal trend story.

Rizzo also will oversee the eventual rollout of the collection to Saks’ 53 full-line stores, helping to create statements in each door and training the associates.

Even though Saks has always offered private label in every category within its men’s area, Frasch said it has “not been packaged in a coordinated way as a Saks Fifth Avenue brand. Now we want all the product categories to play in concert.”

Frasch declined to provide a percentage of what private label now represents in the company’s men’s mix or how large it can become once this initiative takes root. The first of the merchandise is expected to hit for pre-fall 2009.