Eddie Bauer chief executive officer Damien Huang is leaving the Bellevue, Wash.-based American heritage outdoor brand effective May 13, WWD has learned exclusively.
“I want to thank Damien for his leadership throughout his 12 years with Eddie Bauer, including the past year as part of the SPARC Group family,” said Marc Miller, chief executive officer of SPARC Group.
In May 2021, Eddie Bauer was acquired from Golden Gate Capital by Authentic Brands Group, joining Brooks Brothers, Aéropostale, Forever 21, Lucky Brand and Nautica in its SPARC Group brand portfolio.
Huang has a long history in the outdoor apparel industry. Prior to joining Eddie Bauer in 2012, he was vice president of design and merchandising at Patagonia, and before that product director at North Face.
Under Huang’s leadership, Eddie Bauer committed to making the outdoor experience more accessible and inclusive, anchoring the brand in performance apparel and outerwear through a multichannel approach.
“It’s been a great year. ABG recognizes the value of the outdoor experience, the business is super strong, and digital has led the way,” said Huang. “People are seeing good product, good value, and feel good about our trajectory,” the executive told WWD of the new ownership, noting that there has also been interest from a number of new wholesale partners. Kohl’s began selling the brand in its stores in fall 2021.
“He is not just a leader for the company, he’s a muse for the customer,” Huang said at the time. “We were looking for talent that could keep one foot in the outdoors, but open doors to a different creative language, aesthetic, customers and a message about what the outdoors means and who is welcome there.”
His values fit Eddie Bauer’s broader goal “to demystify the outdoors and make it a more accessible place,” Huang explained. “We identified about eight years ago people were looking at the outdoors more as a playground than an arena, it wasn’t a place to conquer or achieve a personal best, or a certain height or summit. Those are part of the experience, but there’s so much more. And there was only a certain subset being spoken to, a particular athlete, or person who could afford a certain ice climbing gear…Despite being in the outdoor industry for a century, we wanted to take our product line in a different direction, not just recirculate the same themes.”
Of his departure, Huang added, “Working with the team at Eddie Bauer and crafting a vision for this brand’s second century has been a phenomenal experience. I’m proud of all that we accomplished together to make outdoor adventure accessible and fun. I am confident that under the leadership of SPARC and ABG, Eddie Bauer is well-positioned to continue its momentum.”
Eddie Bauer’s day-to-day operations will continue with the brand’s other key executives in place. The process of recruiting a successor is underway, with SPARC Group seeking a leader who will embrace the brand’s vision and continue to drive its success, according to a company statement.
No word yet on Huang’s next move.