For the heads of multimillion-dollar fashion companies — one decades old, another still in its teens — heritage is key to building a brand that lasts.
Missoni creative director Angela Missoni and Rag & Bone chief executive officer, founder and creative director Marcus Wainwright shared the stage at WSJ Magazine’s D.Luxe conference, taking place Wednesday in Laguna Beach, Calif., to talk about their respective brands finding commonality while remaining independent firms.
For Missoni, whose parents founded the company, maintaining the heritage is largely in her blood, she said. “I [was] born with it,” she said. “I grow with it.”
Still, evolving a brand and growing with the customer base is important to remaining relevant, Missoni said of the business, which did $177 million last year in revenue.
“For me, [being] multigenerational is very important,” she said. “I always try to keep the collections, even if you have proportion, but something that my daughter can wear. My mother can wear.”
Wainwright, who took on the full ceo title after co-ceo David Neville parted ways with the firm last year, said Rag & Bone stays true to its roots in creating the perfect pair of jeans.
“I ended up one day in Tompkinsville, Kentucky in a very old denim factory,” Wainwright said of the early days of building the business. “That was the birth of Rag & Bone in many ways. My appreciation of what they were doing…personified for me how clothes should be made and what they should represent, and it was actually that company going out of business [that] really crystallized to me the importance of authenticity and craftsmanship.”
Wainwright, who said he’s in no rush to bring in a new ceo, confirmed the company is not actively looking for a new executive to run the $300 million business.
Of course, the downside to being the sole ceo is “Now everything’s my fault,” he said jokingly. “Before, it was all his fault.”
The ceo said he’s less concerned with the numbers, though, operating with the belief that if the product is right, the numbers will come.
“I went through a period to be honest of thinking about the end-game numbers and it was not the right thing to be doing so I stopped doing that,” he said. “You can’t try and make money. You can’t try and grow — I can’t anyway. I believe passionately that what we need to be doing as a brand is focusing purely on the product and the customer and if we do everything right…the growth and the money should be a bi-product of that.”
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