DALLAS — The Fashion Industry Gallery has named director Gavin Smith to the new post of creative director and is searching for an administrator to manage and grow the business.

“Gavin will focus on product and merchandising of our venue, from the vision that you experience when you walk in the door to all the special events,” said John Sughrue, a principal in Brook Partners, which owns the building. “At this point, our needs are to bring in professional management so we can move from being a start-up to a more mature offering.”

The shift will enable Smith to offer new products and services through FIG. In addition, he is developing a collection of fixtures and plans to consult with retailers on buying, merchandising and visual display. Sughrue is financially backing the effort.

“He has a bunch of ideas, and I want to work with him to execute them,” Sughrue said.

“I’m excited about being able to do more creative things, like the FIG Finale [fall clearance sale] and the Nicole Richie book signing,” Smith said. “Those are the kinds of things I like to work on rather than day-to-day things.”

FIG, which opened in January 2004 with Smith as director, has branded itself as a boutique wholesale venue specializing in women’s contemporary sportswear and accessories. It has 43 permanent showrooms and last October expanded with a new trade show called Shop.

At the market beginning March 30, Shop will offer 60 to 70 resources — the most temporary booths that FIG has ever had, Sughrue noted. The growth prompted Sughrue to evaluate how to better manage the business. He said it may take as much as six months to find an individual to manage FIG’s staff, handle leasing and address the needs of temporary exhibitors.

Elyse Wasserman, who has worked at FIG for a year in various capacities, will be interim acting director and is being considered for the permanent position, Sughrue said.

“We want to spend time with industry experts coast to coast to take us to the next level,” he said. “It might be taking a group of designers to Mexico City and putting on a show there. We think this FIG brand we are creating has legs beyond our venue.”

This story first appeared in the March 21, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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