After the Recession, What Will Execs Do First?

Once the recession ends, top apparel executives believe re-invigorating their brands will be their main priority.

with contributions from Marc Karimzadeh, Julee Kaplan
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Topher Gaylord, president, Seven For All Mankind
“We have become laser focused on product innovation, our key initiatives and carefully managing our expenses through this challenging recessionary period. We are going to continue to execute against our initiatives [and] maintain an open-minded, collaborative and entrepreneurial company culture now and as market conditions improve. We don’t see the recession being a big bang event that suddenly ends and therefore dramatically changes how we are doing business. We look at these times as a way to build long-term efficiency into our business and get closer to our customers and end consumers.”

Mark Mendelson, president and ceo, Ellen Tracy
“Throughout our past year here, regardless of macroeconomics, we have focused all energy on reinvigorating our brand. That way, we would be best prepared for upside when things turned around. As things open up, I believe we would push for more growth everywhere. Not only with our existing accounts, who have partnered with us through this, but also new international business and e-commerce.”

Laura O’Connor, president, Zac Posen

“Everybody is dealing with budget constraints in this difficult time. We’re working so hard and we’re rethinking and have remanaged our calendar and all of our long-term projects. We haven’t stopped any of them, we’ve really changed the calendar. We’re working twice as hard to better our business and manage our operating expenses. It’s never easy to economize, and we’ve done a lot of things. Some have been really positive, and simply made the business more efficient. We were never big spenders. [Once the recession is over] I’d love to open stores and do more capital improvements, but the first thing I want to do is to celebrate our team. It’s a tremendous group of people who work here and they are dedicated to making our team stronger.”

Beth Bugdaycay, ceo, Rebecca Taylor
“The very first thing I would do would be to give every one of our staff [members] a big fat raise. I can’t wait for that day, since they are all so valuable to us.”

Michael Wallace, president of Adam
“We look forward to opening more Adam stores. Our freestanding retail has performed well despite the recession, and with the arrival of warm weather, business has really been exciting. L.A., Miami, Atlanta and Chicago are all on our list. We are also exploring new categories, including shoes and accessories, and will grow our brand through these avenues as the economy picks up.”

Heather Pech, ceo of Nanette Lepore
“Throw a huge party! After that, I believe we will continue to operate in much the same manner as we have over the last nine to 12 months. We are much smarter, more disciplined and aligned as an organization than we were a year ago. This is the new reality, and while we are more cautious, we are opening new stores, expanding into new product categories, launching a new fragrance and broadening international distribution.”

Jane Schoenborn, design director of Lilly Pulitzer

“Bring back our favorite company tradition at Lilly Pulitzer…the annual Lilly Prom [which was canceled this spring]. Each spring, Lilly Pulitzer throws a company party, affectionately known as the Lilly Prom. The evening is always perfect, set in an outdoor tent, candles glimmering. Everyone wears their Lilly brights and has cocktails. The band starts and it is like someone lit a match on the dance floor. There is a blur of twirling, laughter and excitement. Lilly herself was always known for throwing fabulous parties that lasted long into the night — and early mornings — in Palm Beach. Therefore, in true Lilly tradition, as the sun sets on prom night, the music only gets louder — everyone is clamoring to dance with the cute boys in the IT department, shoes are kicked off, hair is pulled back and the fun continues.”

Stacey Bendet, co-owner, Alice + Olivia
“Go on vacation.”



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