Stefan Larsson has found a new home at PVH Corp. — and a path back to the corner office.
The former chief executive office of Ralph Lauren Corp. is going to serve as president of PVH, overseeing the company’s brands, including Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein. His first day is June 3.
Larsson will report to Emanuel Chirico, chairman and ceo, who just signed a new five-year employment contract. The plan is for Chirico to move to executive chairman over the next three to four years and have Larsson take over as ceo.
“We wanted to bring Stefan in, give him a chance to learn the company,” Chirico told WWD in an exclusive joint interview with Larsson. “He obviously already knows the industry cold, but [give him] a chance to learn the company, the people, not walk into — like he has had to in the last few situations, what I would describe as turnaround situations. PVH is not that. So having the ability to walk in and really take the business in, understand it and then the two of us work together on the strategy.”
Larsson, who left Lauren two years ago after clashing with founder Ralph Lauren, said he’s coming into PVH with a new perspective — one that came from something of a learning journey, where he traveled the world, took stock of the market and carefully chose his next career move. Prior to his time at Lauren, Larsson led Gap Inc.’s Old Navy division. Before that, he worked at H&M.
At PVH, he saw a corporate culture focused on people and a multibrand platform that has inherent advantages.
“Being a big iconic brand, having a big pool of loyal customers who love your brand is a huge advantage,” Larsson said. “When you have that, when you have the customer trust and loyalty and you have the economy of scale, you can use that to do what Manny and his team have done with Tommy and partly with Calvin, you connect your brand to culture and you create desire and you use technology to connect with the consumer the way they want to connect and then you improve your operating model.”
While Larsson will oversee all the company’s brands, early on he will be paying particular attention to Calvin Klein, which is still finding its way after Raf Simons’ rocky tenure.
The designer, who left Calvin Klein in December, moved the brand in a more fashion-forward direction that was hailed by critics, but didn’t resonate with shoppers. PVH has since eliminated the Calvin Klein collection business, after an investment of $60 million to $70 million, and said it would cost more than $170 million to restructure the business.
Chirico said: “We have a turnaround going on at…Calvin Klein and I think you’ll find Stefan is going to be spending more of his time there at the beginning, working with that senior leadership team on the continued turnaround.”
As Larsson digs in to help Calvin Klein turn around, he has a very nearby example of success.
“The Tommy management team, under Daniel Grieder [ceo, Tommy Hilfiger global and PVH Europe] and Tommy [Hilfiger]’s leadership as our creative visionary has been stellar,” Chirico said. “Marketing has been so on point. The product execution has been excellent. There’s a lot of learnings from Tommy that I think we can apply also to Calvin.”