NEW YORK — Rodrigo Bazan is moving into the corner office at Thom Browne Inc.
Bazan, who will serve as chief executive officer and sit on the company’s board, stepped down this week as president of Alexander Wang, a post he held for five years.
He brings with him 15 years of leadership experience in the industry, having helped shape Wang’s global strategy following stints at Marc Jacobs and Alexander McQueen.
Browne, who is the company’s founder and chief creative officer, pointed to Bazan’s “commitment and understanding of the culture and his long-term vision for the growth of the Thom Browne business. With his leadership, he will be able to guide Thom Browne both as an important business and an important collection for both men and women worldwide.”
The appointment reflects the influence of private equity firm Sandbridge Capital, which bought a controlling stake in Thom Browne from Japan’s Stripe International earlier this year.
Ken Suslow, managing partner of Sandbridge and chairman of Thom Browne, said Bazan, “possesses a rare combination of talents.”
“He’s a world-class operator, while at the same time he is mindful of remaining unerringly true to the vision of the brand,” Suslow said.
The often brutal economics of designer fashion has many brands looking for financial partners to help them fund expansions into new lines of business and new markets. While there are a number of buyers in the market, few deals have come to fruition. The Browne-Sandbridge transaction was an exception, perhaps in large part because the designer has managed to build a sizable business and a platform for future growth.
Browne launched his company in 2001 and expanded from men’s to women’s while becoming known for his suits with cropped pants and burnishing his credentials as a showman with elaborate fashion productions — featuring, for instance, models wearing feathers in birdcages.
He was named men’s wear designer of the year by the Council of Fashion Designers of America in both 2006 and 2013.
The company he built is now said to have sales of $80 million to $90 million, with the brand sold in over 180 stores across 25 countries and through 15 directly operated flagship doors, concessions and franchise stores in New York, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Seoul and London.
Bazan said, “Thom has developed a modern fashion house, deeply rooted in American culture and with a strong point of view. This is a great foundation on which we can continue to develop a leading global business.”
Browne is Sandbridge’s 11th investment in the branded consumer sector. The company has also invested in Derek Lam, Rossignol, Farfetch, Topshop and Karl Lagerfeld.