Sean John has appointed Jeff Tweedy president of the New York-based company, elevating him from the executive vice president of brand development and licensing position. Tweedy has largely overseen the company since the exit of Dawn Robertson from the president’s role in September 2010.
This story first appeared in the November 15, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“Jeff was the first employee of Sean John, and nobody understands our brand DNA better,” said Sean “Diddy” Combs, founder and majority owner of Sean John. “He’s dreamed further for this brand than I even I have. Without Jeff, there would be no Sean John.”
Tweedy — who has been with the company since its founding in 1998, apart from a stint as president of G-III’s sportswear division from 2005 to 2007 — will join the board of Sean John, to which he reports. Also on the board is Combs; two representatives from The Yucaipa Cos., a major investor in the brand, and Derek Ferguson, chief development officer for all of Combs’ financial interests. Tweedy will earn an equity stake in Sean John.
“I’m now 100 percent accountable for the brand,” said Tweedy, adding Sean John has faced considerable hurdles in recent years as the young men’s landscape has been buffeted by the decline of urban brands. Refocusing the line as a fashion collection, and away from basics, has been a priority for Tweedy.
Total Sean John brand sales at retail this year are estimated at $350 million, up from less than $200 million in recent years. However, that figure is down from about $525 million the company claimed in 2008.
The core men’s sportswear business is exclusive to 429 Macy’s doors. Sean John is a completely licensed business in 17 categories, with the largest being men’s sportswear with Li & Fung USA, suits with Peerless, fragrance with the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. and boys’ sportswear with LT Apparel Group.
LT Apparel Group relaunched the boys’ sportswear in 60 Macy’s doors this fall. Fishman & Tobin, which holds the boys’ tailored-clothing license and is a unit of Li & Fung, previously held the boys’ sportswear license from 2000 to 2010.
Macy’s premiered a new television commercial featuring Combs this fall, following a two-year hiatus advertising Sean John. “We’ve really weathered the storm while most of our counterpart brands are no longer here. We are a brand that’s here to stay, and it’s because of the hard work of Jeff Tweedy,” said Combs.