ACKERMAN WANG TAPPED FOR DARYL K
Byline: Miles Socha
NEW YORK — Daryl K-NY?
Reuniting two seasoned Donna Karan International executives at a different firm, the burgeoning fashion conglomerate Pegasus Apparel Group named Mary Wang and George Ackerman presidents of Daryl K women’s and men’s, respectively.
Wang, who recently exited as head of Tommy Hilfiger Corp.’s career division as part of a downsizing, is best known for her three-year stint as president of the DKNY Women’s division. Between the DKNY and Hilfiger stints, she was tapped by GFT USA Corp. to head its troubled Emanuel/Emanuel Ungaro bridge unit.
Ackerman was most recently at Bill Blass Ltd. as chief executive officer, the first in its 28-year-history, and resigned after nine months on the job. Before that, he was president of DKNY Men’s before exiting as part of a major downsizing and restructuring in November 1997.
The hires underscore Pegasus’ intention to transform designer Daryl Kerrigan from a diva of downtown hipdom into a fashion concern with a more commercial reach.
“There’s no reason Daryl K cannot be a $100 million company,” said Stephen L. Ruzow, chairman and ceo of Pegasus Group, which announced that it took a majority stake in Daryl K last week. “We look at Daryl K as a big business.”
He acknowledged that Kerrigan, who launched her label out of a small store on Sixth Street in Manhattan’s East Village in 1991, is widely perceived as being an edgy, urban designer, but he countered, “We don’t think it’s accurate.”
Sources estimate wholesale volume of the Daryl K and K-189 lines reached about $11 million last year. As reported in these columns, Pegasus plans to build the business by expanding distribution of Kerrigan’s signature and K-189 labels, opening more freestanding stores and launching new categories like men’s wear and accessories.
Pegasus’s other holdings also include hot newcomer Miguel Adrover and the eveningwear business Pamela Dennis. Patterned after European conglomerates like LVMH and Gucci Group, Pegasus hopes to acquire up to 10 brands over the next two years.
Ruzow described Daryl K as having a broader distribution potential than its other properties, listing Macy’s, Burdines, Dillard’s, Saks Inc. and May Co. among the customers it was eyeing.
Wang said she has been aware of Kerrigan’s business because “a lot of people I know wear the clothes, especially her pants. She has a special fit, and people rave about that fit.”
However, she said she and Kerrigan did not cross paths at Hilfiger, where Kerrigan has been acting as a creative consultant on all women’s products since January. Nevertheless, Wang said she shared Ruzow’s beliefs about the designer’s potential.
“I think Daryl has a very bright future,” she said. “I think the customer is looking for something different.”
Wang acknowledged that she is more accustomed to working with large business, but asserted that “the old formulas of business are not working as well as they used to.”
“I think Daryl has been limited by a lack of financing,” she said. “Under Pegasus, she will be able to expand her vision. She has a great eye. She has a great image and knows the market. She knows how women like to dress.”
Wang was named president of the DKNY Women’s division in 1995. For a year before that, she was divisional merchandise manager of contemporary and junior sportswear at Bloomingdale’s. Earlier, she was vice president of merchandising at DKNY from its inception in 1989 to 1994.
Prior to joining DKNY the first time, Wang was vice president of merchandise and production at Ralph Lauren Womenswear, a division of Bidermann Industries. She began her career at Macy’s and later served in various sales capacities at Bloomingdale’s.
Wang exited Hilfiger in February. She was one of about 30 people in the better career division whose jobs were eliminated.
In hiring Wang and Ackerman, Ruzow has plumped up his stable of former Karan executives. As reported last week, Ruzow, former president and chief operating officer at Karan, announced that he had tapped Allison Ryba from Karan and named her executive vice president of licensing and international affairs.
The Pegasus executive team also includes Louis Praino, executive vice president of worldwide sourcing, who was Karan’s sourcing chief.
As reported, Cynthia Rowley and John Bartlett are also in negotiations with Pegasus.