There’s a new chief at the SPARC Lifestyle Group.
Natalie Levy has been promoted to chief executive officer of the newly created division within the SPARC Group, the joint venture between Authentic Brands Group and Simon Property Group, overseeing the Aéropostale, Nautica and Lucky Brand businesses.
Levy had previously served as president and chief merchandising officer for the three brands, a role she will continue to hold. In addition to leading product design, merchandising and marketing, as CEO, Levy will also oversee planning and allocation, as well as P&Ls for the three companies.
She will continue to report to Marc Miller, CEO of SPARC Group, which also includes Brooks Brothers, Eddie Bauer and Forever 21. Each of those businesses also has a dedicated CEO — Ken Ohashi at Brooks Brothers and Damien Huang at Eddie Bauer, although the CEO post at Forever 21 has been vacant since Daniel Kulle resigned in October.
“I am confident that in her new role Natalie will successfully lead the dedicated and talented people who support SPARC’s Lifestyle Group and continue to build on the momentum for Aéropostale, Lucky Brand and Nautica,” Miller said.
Levy, whose background includes Ann Taylor, Lord & Taylor and The Children’s Place, joined Aéropostale in 2017 and added oversight of Nautica in 2018 and Lucky in 2020.
She has big plans for each of the divisions, all of which she described as “in a different place in their evolution and growth opportunities.”
With each of them, she said the overall goal is to “make sure the brands stay relevant with their customers.”
The biggest opportunity is with Lucky Brand, the newest brand in her stable. “The product was staid and not relevant to Millennials,” she said. “So we’re going to be relaunching for 2022.” Some refreshed product that has made its way onto the floors in the past few months has experienced a “positive” response from customers, and the brand will continue on that track.
“We feel denim is our signature category — it’s over 50 percent of our business — and we’ll be adding updated fabrics and fits and creating a lifestyle collection.”
That brand is evenly split between men’s and women’s wear, she said, and also has a strong wholesale presence, which she will also work to strengthen.
Turning to Aéropostale, Levy said the business is “on target to be a $1 billion brand.” That was a figure it had achieved in 2016 when it was acquired by SPARC, and although management has declined to provide a current figure, Levy said the retailer has been “delivering record sales this season” as its updated product assortment connects with its target Gen Z consumer.
The business will increase its marketing efforts fourfold with TikTok, a popular platform for its customers, and will also work to “bring more physical and digital experiences” to its stores and online. In addition, the intimates, lounge and activewear categories will also be expanded next year, she said.
With Nautica, Levy said this brand was in the strongest position when it was acquired. “There’s nothing wrong with Nautica, it’s really stable,” she said. But the brand will be celebrating its 40th anniversary next year, which will provide an opportunity in terms of product and marketing. In addition, the company will work to significantly increase its penetration of women’s wear, which currently only represents 15 percent of its sales.
“Eighty-five percent of the business is men’s sportswear,” she said, “so there’s a huge opportunity — we believe we can double the penetration of women’s in the next couple of years.”
She said the plan is also to add more performance attributes to the collection overall and increase the number of categories offered in its Navtech brand of performance apparel.