NEW YORK — Marcus Wainwright is taking the sole reins at Rag & Bone.
Wainwright previously served as co-chief executive officer of the contemporary fashion brand, along with the company’s cofounder David Neville, who is stepping aside. Neville retains a large stake in the company and remains on its board, along with Wainwright and investors John Howard of Irving Place Capital and Andrew Rosen.
But even as Wainwright takes over as sole ceo, he stressed Neville will remain fully involved in the brand. “David isn’t leaving Rag & Bone,” Wainwright told WWD. “He’s decided to step aside from the day-to-day as co-ceo role so he can focus on some new business ventures.”
The switch-up was foreshadowed by a series of executive moves. “David and I have been planning this for some time now,” Wainwright added. “We have an experienced senior management team in place. We’ve built a great culture. David is still invested emotionally and financially in the business. We’re both going to make sure things keep moving forward.”
Neville added: “I decided it was the right time to change my role — when Rag & Bone is in such a strong position. I am incredibly proud of everything we’ve achieved so far, and I’m really excited for the company’s future. I am not leaving for good, but will be working in a different capacity. I continue to be personally and financially invested in Rag & Bone’s success. We built a great brand and a special company culture that will live on. And I’m very excited for what’s next — helping to bring along the next generation of designers, the way Andrew [Rosen] did with us, and helping [my wife, makeup artist] Gucci [Westmanwith her brand.”
Wainwright said the senior management team will report to him directly and he will “continue to run the creative side of the business, including design,” as he always did. “There won’t be any change there. We’ve built a leadership team that can handle the business side of things, under my direction.”
Wainwright and Neville stepped in as co-ceo’s after Michael Tucci, a Coach veteran who became ceo of Rag & Bone, left the company last year. The brand also brought on Helen Costello as managing director of international based in London; Tim Briggs as vice president of merchandising, and Johanna Murphy as global chief marketing officer in 2015.
Lydia Forstmann, previously of Tory Burch, joined in May as chief commercial officer and, according to a source familiar with the company, will take over a lot of what Neville did. She is in charge of the brand’s wholesaling, retail, international and licensing businesses.
Wainwright insisted there wasn’t a falling out between he and Neville, who have been friends since childhood. “Nothing ‘happened.’ David decided he wanted to focus on building new businesses. David’s really liked working with new designers through the CFDA/Vogue Fund and also wants to help out the next generation.”
A source agreed. “It’s a combination of David wanting to do other entrepreneurial things and believing that the company hired a lot of really A-plus people,” the source said. “Lydia was kind of the final piece and once David had that final piece, he was the one who said it’s time.”
Rag & Bone is said to be on track to have its best year yet in 2016 and could be a candidate for an initial public offering in a few years. That adds up to a company that’s on the move and growing more complex.
“It is like drinking from a fire hose to run a company like this,” the source said. “You think about a business like this, it’s a relatively small company that is global” and has wholesale, retail and e-commerce components.
“It’s an unbelievable amount of work,” the source added. “Frankly, it’s an overwhelming kind of responsibility.”
At the WWD CEO Summit last year, Neville said: “There are lots of different parts to our business and at the end of the day things are changing incredibly fast. The way you consume information…and it’s critically important that we keep up with that. The first thing you have to remember is you have to stay true to who you are and maintain the craftsmanship. The business today is fantastic and incredibly exciting. And you always have to remember that. With that being said, our focus is on innovation and doing things that feel new and feel exciting.”