Forget the quiet days of August. September came in with a roar. In a wild week for executive moves, some of the industry’s biggest companies — including Tapestry and Under Armour — made game-changing announcements amid a wave of hirings, firings and promotions across fashion and footwear.
While the executive turnover isn’t a surprise given the challenging business climate, one thing is clear: Companies don’t have the luxury to waste time as the back half of the year progresses.
Take Tapestry Inc., which released disappointing results last month, primarily due to the weakness at Kate Spade. Market watchers had been cautious on the company and now-former CEO Victor Luis‘ strategy for several quarters — and the board likely decided to make a move after the problems appeared to be mounting.
“Ultimately, the board decided to change the leadership at the very top, at the CEO level,” new chief Jide Zeitlin told FN this week. The executive had served for more than a decade on the company’s board and seen its transition from Coach Inc. to the multi-branded Tapestry. “It wasn’t an abrupt or overnight decision. It was a considered decision, but once decided, we moved forward swiftly,” Zeitlin said.
Under Armour has been taking heat for its soft North American business for some time — and the company has now tapped another leader to attempt an overhaul as Nike and Adidas continue to dominate.
Kevin Plank and Patrik Frisk are turning to a proven executive, Stephanie Pugliese, who joins Under Armour Inc.‘s leadership team starting Sept. 16, serving as president of its North America division. The new exec previously served as president and CEO of Duluth Trading Company.
Another challenged company is Topshop, which is moving forward with an aggressive store closing plan to try and get back on track. Not surprisingly, two more key executives have left the building this month. After five months as interim chairman, Jamie Drummond Smith departed, while COO David Shepherd, a 25-year veteran at company, said farewell.
A longtime apparel and footwear player in Washington, D.C. is also exiting — at a time when political unrest and a trade war with China is dominating. Rick Helfenbein is stepping down from his role as president and CEO of the American Apparel and Footwear Association, effective Dec. 31. EVP Stephen Lamar, who has more than 21 years of experience at the AAFA, will take the helm at the start of 2020.
While many companies are making changes amid negative headlines, at least one major firm, Fila North America, is elevating a pair of longtime execs. The brand, which is on a hot streak, promoted Danny Lieberman, who has been associated with the brand for two decades, to EVP of apparel. Meanwhile, Gary Wakley has been elevated to EVP of footwear after joining the company in 2007.
In the luxury sector, a new woman in power is about to put her stamp on Neiman Marcus, which continues to refine its strategy in the midst of company-specific missteps as well as wider department store challenges. Lana Todorovich, who has served as president of North American wholesaling at Ralph Lauren, is now the retailer’s president and chief merchandising officer. (She succeeds Jim Gold, who left in March.)
Finally, in Europe, Myriam Serrano has taken the reins at Maison Alaïa. She was recently at fellow Richmont-owned label Chloe.