Sies Marjan is a new American luxury women’s ready-to-wear label with an unusual origin story.
Launching for fall 2016 during New York Fashion Week, the label is being helmed creatively by Sander Lak, former head of design at Dries Van Noten. Lak is a Dutch graduate of Central Saint Martins and also worked under Christophe Decarnin at Balmain, as well as Phillip Lim. He was hired to create Sies Marjan by Joey Laurenti, the label’s chief executive officer, who is also president of the multibrand showroom Goods and Services. The showroom and Sies Marjan, in turn, are both properties of Deia LLC, a holding company formed in 2012 by Nancy and Howard Marks, the billionaire investor who cofounded Oaktree Capital Management. Under Deia, the Marks made a capital investment in Ralph Rucci’s business, becoming its chairman and board member and tapping Laurenti as ceo. They shuttered Rucci’s collection in 2014 after he left the company.
The Marks declined to comment about Sies Marjan, preferring to keep the focus on Lak and his vision for the brand.
On that note, “We’re going to do, as you call it in America, a high-end luxury brand,” said Lak, who spent five years at Van Noten. “It’s not the term we used in Europe necessarily, but that’s what we’re doing. We’re doing a product that’s very much designer based.” As for the look and aesthetic direction of the collection, Lak said it was too early to share anything, but he had much to say about the culture of the company. “I want to create a culture where we make luxury product, but I don’t want a culture that has extreme over hours,” he said. “It’s important. I feel there is a change happening and it’s something I can thank my previous bosses for. They taught me that you don’t have to be under extreme pressure to create an amazing product.”
Deia and Laurenti seem to be giving Lak the freedom and resources to build the brand to his vision. The name of the collection is the combination of his parents’ given names. He was hired in January and has since assembled a team of 30 employees. “I’m not setting up shop in my basement,” Lak said. “This is a real company. This is the real deal. We’re not interested in a small little thing, we’re interested in really becoming one of the big players in New York and also worldwide at some point. High ambitions.”
For his part, Laurenti said he was introduced to Lak through a recruiting firm, and knew he was the number-one choice for the job, though it took some convincing. “He was skeptical of the situation,” Laurenti said of Lak. “He thought it was a little too good to be true.”
Indeed, it’s rare for a well-funded company to create a new designer label and cast a search for its creative director. To that end, Laurenti said, “I think the owners and the board are interested in and inspired by the luxury fashion space. They feel most aligned in that category of business. They’re aware of an appetite for higher price points from the market, and were interested in developing a line that could fill that void in the market.”