Licensing partnerships are not always a match made in heaven, particularly for the designer who cedes much control to the licensee. Rachel Zoe is the latest designer to learn that lesson.
After launching her contemporary collection, built off her reputation as a celebrity stylist, with Li & Fung in 2011, the license was subsequently transferred to Global Brands Group when that operation was spun off from Li & Fung in 2014. Zoe ended the partnership with GBG in February.
“We’ve since taken the license back and we’re driving our own,” said Zoe, while presenting her resort collection in GBG’s showroom in the Empire State Building, which she will soon be moving out of. “We still have great partners and investors and wonderful people, but now we’re in charge of our own destiny.”
Zoe was hesitant to talk about the changes. She didn’t reveal the separation in February. “I wanted to let the product speak rather than announce some big move,” she said.
Resort is the first collection that reflects her independent direction There is an obvious elevation in the fabric and quality, which is also reflected in the price. The Rachel Zoe Collection has been — and remains — advanced contemporary but the prices have risen slightly. Dresses open at $395 up to $4,000 for specialty evening, which Zoe knows will be sold only in small quantities.
“Unfortunately, the product before didn’t do justice to Rachel’s name,” said Suzanne Fikas, the company president, who joined in November 2013. “We felt, ‘Let’s take a step back and start fresh again.’”
Zoe hired Anna Shaheen as design director in February and is scouting new studio space in SoHo.
“It’s literally new everything,” said Zoe, who has never lacked for a sense of humor about herself and admitted that there has been a learning curve as she’s built her business. “A lot of my mentors in this business have said there’s always growing pains and ups and downs. Because being a stylist for 100 years doesn’t mean that I knew this side of the world. I was on the other side and kind of knew it, but as they say, you don’t know until you know.”