NEW YORK — After putting her muscle behind heavyweights like Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan, Calvin Klein and Liz Claiborne Inc., Denise Seegal is moving into the celebrity arena.
On Friday, Seegal was named president and chief executive officer of Sweetface Fashion Co., the holding company for the J.Lo by Jennifer Lopez clothing line. This confirms a report in Friday’s WWD.
In her new post, Seegal reports to Jennifer Lopez, creative director of the company. Sweetface co-founder Andy Hilfiger, who has served as co-president, will become executive vice president of marketing.
“Jennifer Lopez is a celebrity and star in her own right. There’s a great ability with her momentum to create a lifestyle brand that’s commercially viable,” said Seegal in a telephone interview.
The J.Lo sportswear line, launched for holiday 2001, is currently sold in 1,000 department and specialty store doors in the U.S. In addition to women’s sportswear and juniors, the company has a swimwear, girl’s wear, eyewear and fragrance license. Swimwear and girls’ wear are currently in stores and eyewear and fragrance will launch this fall. J. Lo has a worldwide licensing deal with Lancaster Group U.S. to develop and market fragrance and cosmetics for the brand.
Sources expect the sportswear collection and the licensed girls’, preteen and swimwear lines to generate a total of $64 million in wholesale volume in the first year. Footwear and a men’s line are expected to eventually follow.
Most recently, Seegal has been a marketing and sales consultant. From 1996 to 2000, she was president of Liz Claiborne Inc., responsible for 36 divisions with annual sales in excess of $3 billion. Before that, she was president of the CK women’s and men’s divisions at Calvin Klein Inc., prior to which she was the founding president of DKNY from 1988 to 1994. Before joining Karan, she was with Ralph Lauren Womenswear, where for five years she was executive vice president in charge of five divisions of the company. She began her career at Bloomingdale’s, where she rose to group merchandise manager in charge of designer sportswear.
“Denise Seegal is a brand builder who not only has one of the great track records in the fashion industry for founding and growing important designer businesses, she has a significant background on the retail side of things, both experiences we will draw from heavily to maximize the growth of our company,” said Lopez in a statement.
Explaining why she took the job, Seegal said she was attracted to Lopez’s cross-cultural image and the way the different sectors of art, music and movies influence fashion. “It’s the convergence of these forces that has created a powerful cross-media influence in her lifestyle brand.
“Jennifer has a great, sophisticated, sensual style that appeals to modern women, and she also captures a younger customer via her music and videos,” said Seegal, who begins the job today.
Seegal’s responsibility will be to take Lopez’s influence and vision and develop different product areas that are feasible. “Based on her lifestyle, what we’re seeing is that the customer wants to emulate her. Her style and look and influence are so powerful. J.Lo is a brand with great upside potential, and we’re building her into a total powerhouse. We’ll take her vision to create a five-year global plan. It’s slow, controlled growth.””