Rag & Bone has tapped Stefanie Strack as chief executive officer, effective Sept. 10. At that time, she will also be named to the company’s board. Marcus Wainwright, the current ceo, will assume the new title of founder and chief brand officer.
Wainwright has been going it alone as ceo since co-ceo and cofounder David Neville departed in June 2016.
Strack comes from Nike Inc., where she spent 14 years in various operational and business roles. She has also been a member of Nike’s corporate leadership team. Most recently she was vice president, general manager of Nike Express Lane, leading a global effort to meet evolving consumer needs with improved speed-to-market. The effort led to the development of a division within Nike that sought to transform key direct-to-consumer functions: consumer sensing, data and analytics, design, supply chain and manufacturing. In Nike’s earnings for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2018, Express Lane was the fastest-growing product engine, serving as a key focus point of the brand’s speed initiative.
Earlier, she served as general manager of Nike Skateboarding. In that role, she tapped into a Millennial market while bringing digital innovations to the direct and wholesale marketplace.
According to sources, Strack is known as a dynamic leader who has handled some challenging roles at Nike to build businesses. Digitally savvy, her role will be to enhance how Rag & Bone goes to market.
As reported, Neville stepped aside in 2016 to embark on a career in beauty with his wife, Gucci Westman, who launched Westman Atelier. Neville retained a stake in Rag & Bone and remains on its board, along with Wainwright and investors John Howard of Irving Place Capital and Andrew Rosen.
Strack’s arrival comes as Rag & Bone prepares to accelerate its direct-to-consumer efforts. She will focus on digital transformation and deepening the consumer connection globally across wholesale and direct-to-consumer. As an advocate for a more elevated, connected consumer experience, she will be tasked with challenging the traditional product cycle and pushing the brand to become more personalized and responsive.
Wainwright views Strack “as a true partner.”
“Stefanie brings us a wealth of experience in key strategic areas and personifies the Rag & Bone woman. Her coming on board allows me to focus on what I love, which is designing great product and continuing to build the Rag & Bone brand. Rag & Bone has always challenged the status quo, always trying new ways of doing things. I know that Stefanie will continue that tradition of challenge and innovation, leading us to an awesome future as a brand with a purpose and a singular focus on the customer,” he said.
Strack added, “As a professional, I have been inspired by Rag & Bone for years, and as a customer, the brand has held a unique place in my heart. Authenticity is the essence of Rag & Bone, and I see that reflected throughout the Rag & Bone team.”
In March, WWD reported that a ceo search was quietly in the works, and that sources indicated the firm had hired Melanie Kusin, vice chairman, board and ceo of services at Korn Ferry, to conduct the search. In February, Wainwright had denied a ceo search was in the works, saying he had “been looking for some help for a long time” and “if we can find someone to help us do something,” he would be open to a discussion. He said he would like to add a direct-to-consumer expert and a head of marketing. “We’ve been through various people,” he said. “But we’re a flat organization.”
Kusin, who handled the ceo search, was unavailable for comment Wednesday.
Jaimee Marshall, executive vice president of Kirk Palmer Associates, another executive search firm, described Strack as “a great, dynamic executive on the ascendency of her career.
“With her pedigreed background, I think she has a lot of runway ahead of her. Nike is an amazing training ground and she’s had a lot of diverse experiences. I’m sure she was looking at a way to put her great experience to use,” she said.
Rag & Bone continues to make news with its collaborations and innovations. Last month, it collaborated with Eminem on a special capsule collection that was sold at a one-day-only pop-up at The Sun and 13 Cantons pub on Carnaby Street in London’s Soho, in advance of Eminem’s shows on his European Revival tour. And last year, the company released a “Star Wars” capsule collection that synced up with the release of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” and enjoyed strong sales, with some items selling out within hours. In December, Rag & Bone opened a store in Miami’s Design District developed by Wainwright that featured a raw, garagelike interior complemented by several innovative in-store experiences including vending machines and 3-D custom art installations.
Founded in 2002, Rag & Bone offers a range of men’s and women’s ready-to-wear, denim, accessories and footwear collection. The company operates 42 stores nationwide and is sold in boutiques and department stores in 53 countries.