Rag & Bone is investing in people so it can grow globally.
Johanna Murphy joins the company as global chief marketing officer, a newly created post. She will have oversight for leading the brand’s marketing, public relations and art departments as well as the company’s e-commerce team. Murphy was previously chief marketing officer at Ivanka Trump, and before that vice president of e-commerce at Kate Spade & Co. She reports to Mike Tucci, the company’s chief executive officer.
Murphy is the latest in a series of new hires by Rag & Bone. Tim Briggs joined the company last month as vice president for merchandising, a role that essentially makes him the brand’s chief merchant. Briggs was vice president of women’s merchandising for Burberry Prorsum. And Helen Costello joined the firm in March as managing director, international. She is based in London. Costello is charged with oversight for the brand’s strategic global growth plans. Prior to joining Rag & Bone, Costello was global wholesale and franchise director at Bottega Veneta, and before that held a similar position at Burberry managing the wholesale Burberry Prorsum business globally.
David Neville, Rag & Bone’s comanaging partner, said, “Relatively speaking, we’ve had a good amount of success in the last decade. We’ve learned the business [and now the] big question is how do we grow our business internationally.”
Neville said that while hiring Costello was a big part of that thinking, the company also knew it was time to hire a chief marketing officer, one who is strong on marketing and branding and, “given how we communicate these days, digital is a big part of that.” Neville said there’s no shortage in creative content at the company, a special part of the company’s heritage whether through shows, campaigns or more recently, video content. The most recent was a short film of iconic ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov and street dancer Lil Buck dancing as they showcase the brand’s Fall 2015 menswear collection in lieu of a traditional runway show.
“The question is how do we disseminate that across the different platforms. It used to be that Marc (comanaging partner Marcus Wainwright) and I would think something is a good idea and then go for it. But now we need to be more strategic,” Neville explained.
According to Neville, “Reaching people [in] this day and age is much easier, given social media and the Internet. How what you are trying to say and what the consumer perceives you are saying is a huge piece of brand marketing and storytelling.” Hiring Murphy will also help the company weave a common thread digitally across all platforms to provide a consistent message for the Rag & Bone brand both here and overseas.
The company has 20 stores in the U.S., with the most recent store opening in Chicago at 25 East Delaware Place in April. Spanning 4,000 square feet, the store offers its men’s and women’s collections, denim, accessories and footwear. Overseas, Neville said there is one company-owned store in London, with four franchise stores in Japan and five franchise stores in Korea. There is also one franchise store each in Hong Kong, Bangkok and Taiwan.
Costello is “actively seeking a site for a second store in London,” and looking at ideas for the Middle East and Europe, Neville said.
E-commerce also will play a role with the direct-to-consumer channel on the international front. The business was initially a turnkey operation through an outside service, but that operation was taken in-house in March. That move now allows for orders from overseas customers.
According to Murphy, who admits to having a “closet that is full of Rag & Bone,” the first order of business will be putting together a digital road map for the entire business.
“When I think of where the world is going from a digital space, I think the definition of digital is broadening. Things are moving so fast. The strong brands today are the early adopters of social media and e-commerce. For Rag & Bone, digital will be a thread that runs through the organization, from specialty stores to international and wholesale. Digital will be the tool that fuels the growth.”
While Murphy is looking at analytics and customer engagement as a part of digital, she is also eyeing more video content, and considers social media a subset of the digital component.