LOS ANGELES — Dstld parent Digital Brands Group has hired a former Coach and Harry Winston marketing executive to head up its own brand story as the company continues to refine its business operations into a multibrand platform.
Laura Dowling has been brought on as chief marketing officer of Digital Brands Group, the parent to premium denim line Dstld and the recently launched men’s wear division, Ace Studios.
Dowling was most recently at Coach, where she was vice president of marketing and public relations for North America during a period that included a campaign featuring Selena Gomez. The campaign helped pull in 500,000 new e-mail acquisitions and also helped push sales of products in the $300 to $400 range by about 20 percent.
Dowling has also worked at Harry Winston as U.S. marketing and p.r. director and Ralph Lauren, where she was director of wholesale marketing.
“I like points of view. You need to have a point of view because people attach to points of view,” Dowling said in describing one of the Dstld brand’s strengths. “There are many opportunities to open up the point of views a little bit in order to reach new audiences and for them to understand Dstld’s proposition.”
What that looks like will be more content — video and other digital — around the brand and its essentials.
Advertising will have more of what Dowling called a “lifestyle lens,” with upcoming campaigns focused on French terry, cashmere and Japanese denim product. New creative is set to begin rolling out later this month.
Dstld has historically not gone the influencer or celebrity route when it has come to selling its product, focusing mainly on telling stories around its premium pieces at affordable prices. It appears to be too soon to call if higher-profile faces would be added into the mix moving forward.
“No one can doubt the power of celebrity and what that does,” Dowling said. “I think the brands need to be — just speaking from 50,000 feet — brands need to be very careful about who they align themselves with….I think at this time I can’t say that I would make a decision [on using celebrities or influencers] because the retail world has changed so dramatically in general.”
Dowling’s hire comes as the company is mulling the potential of filing for an initial public offering in London. It’s an interesting move following a series of crowdfunding raises through the Regulation A+ process that has generated more than $8.5 million for the business.
When asked more about the particulars of a London filing, a spokeswoman declined to comment on timing or the thinking behind such a move, except to say that “as a small but fast-growing brand, we’re considering markets that focus on small cap issuers.”
The company, founded in 2012 first as a fast-fashion denim firm before making the switch to Dstld, has pitched itself as a premium essentials line starting with denim for men and women before branching out into pieces such as T-shirts, leather motorcycle jackets and some accessories. The idea driving the assortment offering has always remained a curated wardrobe for the closet.
The company last year created the umbrella company Digital Brands Group, the parent to Dstld and the recently launched men’s wear line ACE Studios. At the time of the Digital Brands Group announcement, the thinking by management was to begin an acquisition strategy in the second half of this year with the idea the business forge a platform model. That is, it acts as the umbrella organization offering back-end functions so that brand founders can focus on the creative.
“If you look at the life cycle of a lot of these [digitally native] companies, the story goes people find a product market fit or they find a problem in the marketplace to solve and they go into design development and sell through the direct channel. Then they start facing all the traditional issues in building these businesses,” Mark Lynn, president and chairman, told WWD at the time of Digital Brands Group’s formation. “The working capital model for these brands is harder than traditional brands and there’s been no real change in that model. So a lot of businesses have been relying on venture capital, and a lot of the money that’s raised in venture capital goes into building redundancies within these organizations.”
The strategy also aims to answer the question of what the next step is in the life cycle of direct-to-consumer brands that have cultivated loyal followings, although predominantly at niche levels. Pooling such brands into a single network, Dstld management thinks, is the way to go.
Dowling’s hire as chief marketing officer further bolsters the Dstld management team, which last year saw J.Hilburn and BeautyKind founder Hil Davis initially come on as chief operating officer before he was named chief executive officer in September.