Joseph Boitano, a merchant well known in European and American designer circles, has joined The Powell Companies Real LLC as brand president responsible for the upcoming Dubgee by Whoopi Collection.
Boitano will be responsible for the growth and development of the Dubgee by Whoopi collection through wholesale, digital, licensing partnerships and other means.
Boitano will also help identify possible acquisitions for The Powell Companies Real, which designs, manufactures and distributes apparel and accessories and invests in brands. Boitano takes on a new job at the company.
Next month, Whoopi Goldberg will launch the Dubgee by Whoopi collection, working with The Powell Companies Real to provide a line of clothes for women that feel comfortable and are inclusive in terms of sizes. Goldberg has already made fashion headlines by creating “ugly” Christmas sweaters, which have sold well at department stores, and through her own unique loose-fitting style. She’s has been known to wear high heels with socks.
In an interview with WWD on Monday, Boitano described Dubgee by Whoopi as “a soft, unconstructed, casual collection of women’s sportswear, with regular to larger sizing. It reflects Whoopi’s aesthetic with some novelty about it, some interesting prints, and a little bit of an ath-leisure feeling.”
The collection launches in May with “a summer package” available at Neiman Marcus, Macy’s and online.
“She wants to be inclusive, in terms of fit and sizing,” Boitano said. “She’s been very involved in the design of the product and the way it looks. It does reflect her style but goes beyond her style. Her look is the essence of it, but then the design team has been growing that and there’s opportunity to further develop it.”
Boitano said he spent time with Goldberg last week. “She’s delightful, charming, intelligent and focused.”
He also said working with the actress and The Powell Companies Real will enable him to draw from across his background in branding and business development, which was very much part of his Saks Fifth Avenue experience, to product concept and design, which were a big part of his experience at Lands’ End.
In his new job, Boitano said he’ll be “constantly looking at collections and where the market is moving” to bring to The Powell Companies Real opportunities that could revolve around designers, celebrities or classifications. Boitano said he will be identifying “white spaces and building new brands” that could be in men’s wear, women’s or kids fashion.
“There are a lot of different ways at looking at it,” Boitano said. “The Powell Companies Real has the background and infrastructure in terms of production to support any of those endeavors. This is a real adventure and I’m excited to be part of the team.”
Steven B. Powell, chairman of The Powell Companies Real, said Boitano brings “extensive knowledge of the industry, coupled with incredible merchandising and business building skill sets” to the team.
For about the last two years, Boitano did some consulting including working with the Orchard Mile fashion web site. He also took some time off.
He was co-chief executive officer of Lands’ End and before that served as Lands’ End’s executive vice president, chief merchant and head of design.
Earlier in his career, Boitano was at Saks as group senior vice president and general merchandise manager for 15 years, expanding the women’s offering and overseeing women’s apparel designer, private label, diffusion lines and contemporary collections. Boitano was also involved in implementing omnichannel initiatives, working with the Saks Direct team to coordinate the direct and full-line store businesses.
Before Saks, Boitano was executive vice president of merchandising at Bergdorf Goodman, and earlier in his career he worked at I. Magnin, which is no longer in business.
The Powell Company Real is involved in private label and celebrity brands. Aside from Dubgee by Whoopi, the portfolio includes Oopi by Whoopi for children; Alessandra Belle; Legionwear; Whitney Morgan, and numerous private label brands.