After a 10-year run, Carly Cushnie and Michelle Ochs, cofounders and designers of Cushnie et Ochs, are parting ways.
In addition, Peter Arnold, chief executive officer of Cushnie et Ochs, is leaving the company after a little over two years in the role. Cushnie will assume the ceo responsibilities until a successor is named.
According to sources close to the company, it is believed that the Cushnie and Ochs’ relationship had run its course and came to a natural end.
Cushnie, Ochs and Arnold were unavailable for comment.
“Over their decade-long partnership, Carly Cushnie and Michelle Ochs have created a vibrant brand, unique in its bold sensuality and minimalist sophistication. As we plan for the next decade, we are realigning our organization with Carly at the helm of our leadership team, while seeking a new ceo from the marketing and merchandising world, who can further accelerate the expansion of our brand,” said a company spokeswoman. “Michelle has played an instrumental role in the creation and growth of the brand, and we wish her every success. We also thank Peter for his important contributions.”
The executive committee determined that streamlining the organization under Cushnie and seeking a new leader from the marketing/merchandising world would best position the company for its future growth.
Cushnie and Ochs, who are known for their sleek, minimalist sexiness, met while they were students at The New School’s Parsons of Design, where as seniors, Ochs won Designer of the Year and Cushnie was runner-up. A year later, they launched their label. In the last few years they’ve expanded into shoes, bags and activewear.
Last Friday night, Cushnie and Ochs presented their 10th anniversary collection at Pier 17 in New York, inspired by Zaha Hadid’s smooth architectural curves. Hadid also inspired Ochs’ graduate collection in 2007. As WWD wrote in its review, “It felt like the same principles applied for fall 2018 as the models emerged from behind a scrim in evening silhouettes that skimmed their curves like liquid mercury.”
In 2015, Cushnie et Ochs sold a minority stake in the business to Farol Asset Management and a group of fashion insiders, including Gary Wassner, who is ceo of Hilldun and cofounder and chairman of InterLuxe, who made a personal investment. As part of the deal, Arnold was brought in as ceo. Before assuming that role, Arnold spent seven years as ceo of Cynthia Rowley and before that was executive director of the Council of Fashion Designers of America.
It was reported that the proceeds of the sale of the minority holding would be used to expand the Cushnie et Ochs collection, speed growth and build the brand’s profile. At the time, sources pegged the company’s volume at $10 million to $15 million. Interestingly, at that point, it was reported that the company had 10 employees and no one had ever left.
Today, the brand sells at such retailers as Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Intermix, Shopbop and Net-a-porter.
Among some of the new developments at the company are a partnership with Lee Jeans to create a collection for “Lee Body Optix,” to create denim that flatters the female body. In past seasons the brand also expanded beyond ready-to-wear, branching into activewear with a collection for Bandier and a limited-edition jewelry collection designed by Pamela Love. Cushnie et Ochs launched handbags on the runway for fall 2017.
In a telephone interview, Wassner said that the company was making some internal changes to move the brand forward over the next 10 years. He said they are very interested in seeking a new ceo who has a strong focus on marketing and digital. “The brand is stronger than it’s ever been and we just had a 10-year anniversary and it will continue to evolve. It’s business as usual as a company,” he said.
“We’ve elevated the existing team in certain respects and we’re comfortable there’s a strong support structure around Carly,” said Wassner. He said everybody else is staying. “Carly brings tremendous energy and excitement to the brand. She’s a true talent. She has great media presence, she understands the brand, she’s the epitome of the brand in so many ways and she’s fully committed to the brand’s success.”
The brand won the Ecco Domani Award in 2009 and was the finalist for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund in 2011 and a nominee for the CFDA Swarovski Award in 2012.