NEW YORK — Felita Harris is joining Lela Rose in the newly created role of senior vice president of global commercial development.
Last month Harris exited Donna Karan, where she was senior vice president of global sales, overseeing distribution in more than 30 countries. Executives at Donna Karan did not respond Monday to a request for comment about her successor.
During her 12 years at the company, she was at one point director of retail merchandising. Harris also once served as Piazza Sempione’s North American president and worked at such companies as Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Armani, St. John Knits and Agnona.
When she joins Lela Rose on Dec. 1, Harris will be responsible for leading the brand through its next growth phase by focusing on wholesale for the designer’s ready-to-wear, bridal and newly launched accessories business in the U.S. and internationally.
“Felita will play an integral role in leading and developing the wholesale business,” said founder and designer Rose, whose label is sold in Canada, Europe, Russia, the Middle East and Asia.
Noting the brand is sold in stores such as Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue, chief executive officer Ellen Rodriguez said Harris will zero in on how “to build our dominance on the designer floors.”
There will be a greater emphasis on visual displays and an increase in concept shops. Rodriguez said, adding, “At the same time we’re an American brand with distribution internationally. What Felita can bring to us is a more strategic perspective about how we will approach the world, setting priorities in terms of markets, figuring out whether to go in there as a retail concept or wholesale partners.”
Rodriguez said, “Felita’s pivotal because she completes the task at hand that we set out to do about a year-and-a-half ago — investing in people, in operations, in systems and in talent to develop the business for the people who are already in this organization.”