NEW YORK — Robert Wichser has been named president and chief executive officer of Sean John, titles that were previously held by Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, founder and chairman.
“The brand name is incredibly strong and has a loyal customer,” Wichser said Thursday. “Sean is incredibly energized about women’s and it’s an amazing opportunity for us. I think we have a foundation for a really strong women’s team with Wendy [Chivian, senior vice president of Sean John women’s apparel] and Jenny [La Fata, vice president of design for Sean John women’s apparel].”
Wichser will be responsible for all aspects of operations, merchandising, design, sales, marketing, licensing and manufacturing for the Sean John line. He begins Monday and reports to Combs.
“In a relatively short time, the men’s business has grown into a $450 million retail business,” said Wichser. “Our goal is to further evolve the brand from an urban brand to a full lifestyle brand.”
Wichser has more than 30 years of experience in the apparel business. Most recently, he was president and ceo of JA Apparel Corp., a post he held for 12 years. In 2003, Joseph Abboud filed a lawsuit against Wichser personally, accusing him of breach of fiduciary duty, common law fraud and tortious interference with his contract. Legal actions were withdrawn last year.
Earlier, Wichser was president and ceo of Crystal Brands Women’s Apparel Group, which includes Evan Picone, Evan Picone Dress and Evan Picone Sport. Wichser also served as president of the women’s knitwear division of Warnaco, where he was responsible for brands such as Hathaway for Women, Geoffrey Beene and Pringle of Scotland.
Wichser joins the Sean John team just two weeks after Jenny La Fata was hired to lead the women’s design team. The Sean John women’s collection will be in stores for holiday 2005.