WWD: Calvin Klein Underwear Taps Brian Reyes to Head Design

WWD July 12, 2012 

By Karyn Monget

Ready-to-wear designer Brian Reyes has been appointed vice president and head of global design at Calvin Klein Underwear, a division of the Warnaco Group Inc. 

The post had been vacant for several months. 

In his responsibilities, Reyes will lead the global design team and will be responsible for the development of all products for the Calvin Klein Underwear men’s and women’s collection. 

He will report to Bob Mazzoli, chief creative officer of Calvin Klein Underwear.

Mazzoli described Reyes as an “exceptional talent who brings tremendous experience and keen awareness of current fashion trends in men’s and women’s design.” 

Reyes, who most recently served as a creative consultant at Tse Cashmere House, said he is looking forward to “providing long-term creative direction for this quintessential iconic global brand.” 

“The underwear category is unique in that it is a fundamental basic but has so much possibility to be intriguing, sexy and desirable. Calvin Klein in particular has such incredible history and brand power,” said Reyes. 

Reyes has an extensive and diverse background in fashion, spanning more than 10 years. He began his career at Polo Ralph Lauren and went on to contribute to a number of top fashion houses, including Michael Kors and Oscar de la Renta. While at Kors, he helped relaunch and build the men’s business, working directly under Kors’ direction. He received his first exposure to intimate apparel while serving as the director of design licensing at Oscar de la Renta, which sparked his affinity for the intimates category. 

Reyes launched his own, namesake collection with much hype in 2006 which included a small lingerie line with a celebrity following, but shuttered it after the 2010 resort season. Before joining Tse, he had taken a year-long absence from the world of fashion, during which he traveled to such places as Patagonia “with a backpack…to be inspired by nature. 

“Over the past decade, Brian has established himself as a fashion innovator with broad customer appeal. His addition to the team will heighten our focus on the consumer as we build on Warnaco’s commitment to be brand, product and consumer focused in everything we do,” stated Martha Olson, Warnaco’s group president.

Mazzoli noted that Reyes’ apparel background will lend a fresh eye to the underwear category.

 “We certainly have plenty of underwear category experts in the house, me and Martha among them, but with that level of creativity in terms of how he sees things, it’s a wonderful dynamic,” said Mazzoli.


How To Interview Effectively

July 6, 2012

by Kate Benson 

People always asking me how to prepare for an interview, and I wish there was a standard answer. However, today nothing is standard ,and most people are poor interviewees.

Interviewing is an art. There’s no guarantee the interviewer knows how to make the most of 60 minutes. Often, candidates report doing less than half the talking. So how do you make an impression when the interviewer isn’t a good listener, talks too much, or works off prepared questions?

Be ready. 

1. Open-ended questions: Tell me about yourself? Where do you shop? What brands interest you? Who’s winning in our industry?

 These are tricky. This is an opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge; however, many people tendto “monologue” to the point of becoming boring. Take a moment to gather your thoughts but be informative, concise. When you get the “tell me about you” question don’t give too much detail on any aspect of yourlife. If they don’t ask about high-school, don’t talk about it! Limit answers to 60 seconds. Remember the “elevator speech,” practice yours over and over before a mirror, carefully watching your facial expressions. 

2. How did you choose this industry?

 This question allows you to show off all the research you’ve done on the company, the industry, competitors, and your take on their opportunities. 

3. Describe your ideal job.

Be creative. You always loved XYZ or you followed your passion. Either way, tailor your answer to your audience, to their company and this particular opening. Do not tell folks at Apple you hoped to be a music teacher but are tone deaf. They want to hear that you’ve lived for technology and high design goods since childhood.

4. Be prepared to give. Help people connect the dots between their needs and your abilities. Use specific examples in your conversation — critique advertising campaigns — compare and contrast similar things you have done, been inspired by or are completely different – and why. 

5. Be likeable. Have you ever heard, “I didn’t like them but they have the skillset so let’s hire them!”? NEVER. It’s the other way around — the skill sets become less important when you seem to be a cultural fit.

6. Cultural nuances. This is what really makes or breaks success — short and long-term. Study the organization — not only the job opening but the entire company. What do they stand for? How have they evolved? What kind of people do they hire? These are keys to success that are as important as your experience. 

7. Calm those nerves — somehow, whatever works — really try to be yourself. If the interviewer projects negative energy make it your job to give them your energy. 

8. You are the product — even if you aren’t a marketer by trade think back to college – we all took those classes. Product, Price, Place, Promotion, and Packaging. You are the product and Packaging counts. How you dress is almost as important as what you say. Do your due diligence and, hopefully, have an astute headhunter to guide you. Don’t go into an interview wearing a three- piece suit if you are meeting that hot digital agency.

9. Body Language. Sitting with arms crossed across your chest signals you are not an open person. Finishing people’s sentences indicates you aren’t a good listener. When I see someone jiggling their foot – I think nervous. Maintain eye contact throughout. Think about yourself — how do you sit when you are interested? Legs crossed, hands on the table, or on your lap, slightly leaning forward. 

10. Companies interview the WHOLE person — this is an audition so do what is needed to get the part.

WWD: Joseph Barrato to Retire From Moncler



 WWD June 25, 2012

 Joseph Barrato to Retire From Moncler

 By Jean E. Palmieri

Joseph J. Barrato is stepping down from Moncler. The president of North American operations for the Italian brand, who is responsible for all sales and marketing in the U.S. market, will retire at the end of June.

He will be succeeded by Sandra Jovicic as president of Moncler U.S. 

“Moncler’s success and significant growth in the United States are strongly linked to the contribution of Joe Barrato,” said Remo Ruffini, Moncler president and creative director. “Thanks to his experience, deep knowledge of the U.S. marketplace and remarkable business development competence, Moncler U.S. has reached outstanding results and established a powerful brand image.” 

Barrato, 71, has spent more than 50 years in the apparel industry, in such roles as president of Ralph Lauren Purple Label and Black Label men’s wear divisions, and chief executive officer and president of Brioni USA, a position he held for 20 years. At Brioni, Barrato is credited with helping to build the Rome-based luxury brand into one of the most prestigious labels in the world.

Barrato started his career in retail, working for Brooks Brothers — first as a stock boy and then as an assistant buyer. He also served as vice president and divisional merchandise manager of men’s at Bergdorf Goodman and worked for Garfinckel’s, based in Washington, D.C. In 1968, he joined a start-up company, Polo Inc., working closely with its founder, Ralph Lauren.

Before joining Moncler, Barrato had his own consulting firm, JJB Consulting. He was also the founding president of the Designers Collective, has won the Fashion Institute of Technology’s 1999 Distinguished Alumni Award and was awarded the 2008 Lifetime Achievement Award from Morehouse College. He has also been named to Esquire’s list of “10 Best-Dressed Men in Fashion.” 

“It was time,” Barrato told WWD. “I’ve been working full-time for the past 54 years, and I still have a lot of passion for the industry, but after a while, you get a little tired.” 

He said he plans to devote himself to a “huge book project” upon his retirement. “It’s an educational vehicle for the Chinese market, about the luxury market,” he said. “They love luxury, and they’re so affluent, but they spend a lot of money without knowing why. And for some reason, I’m the authority,” he said with a laugh. Once the book is completed, he hopes it will be distributed in hotels, and even shopping malls, in Asia.

Barrato also plans to travel and consult for private clients on a limited basis.

Most recently, Jovicic worked at Cacci & Co. Advisors, a consultancy firm specializing in the luxury industry. Earlier, she was executive vice president, specialty retail for Tommy Hilfiger North America and has also been with such companies as Bottega Veneta, Miu Miu, Cerruti, Celine and Armani Group.


HAPPI: THE EXPERT’S OPINION – Culture Fosters Innovation

HAPPI  June 2012 

Culture Fosters Innovation 

Kate Benson explains why money can’t always buy it.

Innovation is the name of the game in many industries, certainly in all of those that we recruit for. Innovation fosters new products, new categories and new consumerism – which leads to what we are all in business for: to make money. After all, this is America – we are a capitalistic society. I believe that some of the most innovative endeavors come not only from those million-dollar ideas (or million-dollar investments), but from people. I recently read an article on habits by Janet Rae-Dupree, and one line in particular struck me: “You cannot have innovation unless you are willing and able to move through the unknown and go from curiosity to wonder. ”It made me think about people and how often opportunities to grow as individuals, are missed because of the fear of the unknown. As an executive recruiter we “helicopter” people into new environments all the time. It’s an incredibly stressful situation for all involved. When it’s successful, it’s amazing – but so often, times of great opportunities are missed because of a person’s inability to be open-minded when it comes to forming new relationships, and in turn, forming new corporate cultures. When you are starting a new job it’s so much simpler to rely on what you already know. It’s easier to surround yourself with people you have had success working with in the past, rather than entering into a situation where you’ll have a new team. However, in order to foster innovation, it’s necessary that you’re open to new people – as they’ll bring innovative ideas, challenge preconceived assumptions and offer a fresh perspective to a situation.

Executives Must Fill in the Blanks

 In terms of executive’s personalities, it’s important to understand what your company has in excess as well as what they are lacking. Not every worker will be equally analytical, creative, procedural or rational. It’s important to understand what a person’s strengths are, as well as their weaknesses. What’s more, it’s necessary to keep this in mind when hiring more staff, as it’s beneficial to make sure that one person can make up for what another may lack. A great leader must create a roadmap that identifies where their organization currently stands, where they want it to go in the future and how they will possibly get there. There should be an assessment of what skills their company as a whole possess, along with what is missing. Sometimes it’s difficult for people to admit what they’re lacking. However, a great leader will understand that where there are blanks, come opportunity.

It’s important that when your company comes to a fork in the road, not necessarily to choose the easier path, but more so to understand where both roads may lead. Are you going to choose the route that makes you more comfortable? Or will you take the road that has bumps and challenges along the way, but may ultimately foster a culture that will prove beneficial in the long run. The choice is yours – it always has been.

WWD: Christian Dior Taps Judy Collinson

WWD: June 8, 2012 

Christian Dior Taps Judy Collinson  

By Miles Socha  

NEW YORK— Longtime Barneys New York executive Judy Collinson has landed at Christian Dior Inc.  Collinson confirmed to WWD that she has been named the French fashion house’s general merchandise manager for the U.S. She started Wednesday and reports to Karen Watkins, executive vice president of Christian Dior Inc.  Considered a strong merchant, Collinson is best known for her long stint as head of women’s at Barneys New York, which she exited following a management shakeup in 2010 when former Gucci chief executive Mark Lee became the retailer’s chief executive officer.  In her post-Barneys career, Collinson did a stint as executive director of women’s apparel at Anthropologie.  She arrives at Dior at an exciting time for the house as its new creative director Raf Simons is to present his first collection during couture week in Paris next month

WWD: Men’s Designers Bring New Take to Women’s

WWD June 7, 2012

Men’s Designers Bring New Take to Women’s

By Miles Socha 

PARIS — Could fashion be suiting up for a new era? 

With acclaimed men’s wear mavens now piloting storied women’s houses — headlined by Hedi Slimane at Yves Saint Laurent and Raf Simons at Christian Dior — it just might spark an important change in female style.

Giorgio Armani, perhaps the industry’s most compelling example of a designer who successfully made the leap from men’s into women’s, said of the overall trend, “A men’s wear designer never loses sight of the relation between shape and function, which, transferred into women’s wear, can give great results.”

And what else might a men’s wear designer bring to the table that a women’s wear specialist might lack?

“I think the sense of reality, the elegance translated into a clean and bold line,” Armani replied.

Massimiliano Giornetti, who was named creative director for all product lines at Salvatore Ferragamo in 2010 after a decade in its men’s department, agreed that “the idea of construction and functionality — a concept banned from women’s fashion for years,” is something second-nature to designers formed in men’s wear.

“Men’s fashion always had the necessity to combine aesthetics and functionality, because men refuse to wear pieces featuring details with no function,” Giornetti noted.

 Slimane and Simons have yet to unveil their first women’s looks for their respective houses. (Slimane is slated to show men’s and cruise collections to buyers this month, while Simons’ Dior debut will be during Paris Couture Week in July.)

Yet a variety of observers — from designers and retailers to headhunters and educators — agreed that the advent of more men’s wear specialists in the women’s universe is an exciting development.

“We need change in fashion; the world is changing,” said Karl Lagerfeld. “I think it’s a good thing.”

“Change is progress and there is no better time than the present to be viewing women’s ready-to-wear through a new 21st-century lens,” added Barbara Atkin, vice president of fashion direction at Toronto-based Holt Renfrew. “From what I have seen, designers from men’s wear definitely have the requisite skills to create what today’s female customers want in terms of apparel and accessories, mainly because men’s wear is based on a foundation of precision, mastering construction and technical details.”

Strategic luxury adviser Concetta Lanciaux, a former adviser to LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton and the French group’s longtime human resources chief, said fashion today needs a jolt, having spent the last 10 years reviving recent decades — from the Fifties through to the Nineties. The arrival of Slimane and Simons at two storied houses also comes at a time when women’s wear sales at retail are flagging, spurring many stores to call out for a new direction. Meanwhile, men’s wear sales are booming, driven by a new, slimmer silhouette and a younger, more fashion-aware consumer.

“Since Armani, we have not really had a new silhouette; we’re revisiting the past. Big changes in fashion always come around structure and cut. Who are those who make structure? It’s those who do men’s,” she said.

She noted that Simons, who was at Jil Sander before joining Dior, and Phoebe Philo, creative director of Celine, have already been pointing fashion in this direction — an emphasis on form and shape rather than surface decoration.

Slimane, who electrified men’s wear with a brief stint at YSL Rive Gauche Homme and then seven years helming Dior Homme, has remained mum on his intentions as YSL’s new creative director, and plans to show “transitional” cruise and men’s lines this month to retailers only.

He and Simons declined to be interviewed for this article.

However, sources suggest Slimane is obsessed with tailoring and plans to make that a key style statement when he stages his first women’s show this fall during Paris Fashion Week. YSL has two ateliers on Avenue George V here devoted to “tailleur” and one for “flou,” which refers to fluid or dressmaker garments.

Several observers suggested that turbulent economic times have nudged consumer tastes toward more enduring fashions — and tailoring has been a feature in fashion for centuries.

“We are seeing a shift in the gender register: Men are getting more feminine and women more masculine,” Holt Renfrew’s Atkin noted. “That, along with the postrecession demand for classic, timeless pieces, has pushed designers like Phoebe Philo for Celine to design stealth collections that can be described as more masculine than feminine in their aesthetic.”

Pamela Golbin, chief curator of fashion and textiles at Les Arts Décoratifs in Paris, agreed that men’s wear designers — coaxed into the women’s arena — will “add something to the equation.” She was referring to the “rigorous design process” and “formal vocabulary” of men’s wear — the trouser, the coat, the jacket, the suit — all garments that are appealing to women.

Asked why there seems to be an influx of men’s specialists to the women’s realm now, Golbin noted that men’s wear became “very creative” in the Nineties when women’s wear was mired in minimalism — roughly when Slimane and Simons came onto the radar as innovators with their edgy, occasionally androgynous styles, influenced by music and street culture.

To be sure, many men’s wear practitioners have segued successfully into the women’s domain — Ralph Lauren and Armani among them.

Among men’s wear specialists industry players would like to see spread their wings into women’s wear in the future are Kim Jones (men’s style director at Louis Vuitton), Lucas Ossendrijver (men’s designer at Lanvin) and Véronique Nichanian (men’s designer at Hermès.)

Why do fashion designers ultimately focus on one gender over another?

“It’s a matter of natural instinct: Some designers always put in their mind the body of a woman — hips, waistline, bosom. Some others are thinking more to architecture, construction and volume,” said Paris-based industry consultant Jean-Jacques Picart.

As for the ability to cross gender lines, “It’s just a matter of a clear vision: Will he be sensitive enough to the women’s world, her behavior, needs and expectations, to be inspired in the right way?” according to Picart.

“Don’t forget that today men and women share a lot of mannerisms in terms of the way of thinking, lifestyle and the way of dressing,” he added.

“Femininity, luxury and style are the key elements for a woman to dress with personality,” said Linda Loppa, director of the Polimoda, International Institute of Fashion Design & Marketing in Florence. “Some designers overdress a woman, make her a sex symbol or make her vulgar. If the designer respects that a woman doesn’t need to be overdressed to flatter, he has the key of success in his hands.”

Loppa has detected a spike in interest in men’s wear among students lately. “It seems easier to express an idea, a mood, a volume, while women’s wear is more complex,” she mused.

Mary Gallagher, Paris-based associate for New York search firm Martens & Heads, pointed out that, “Men’s wear is being looked at very closely now. Thanks to business in China, men’s wear is growing faster than women’s wear at many brands.”

She noted there are potential risks engaging a designer who has no experience in women’s wear for a house with feminine roots.

“Men’s wear designers tend to have more training in tailoring and less in draping and flou, which could lead to a one-note collection,” she said. “Also fabrics for women’s wear are much more diverse and generally richer, and various colors and prints tend to be used much more.”

Beyond that, observers agreed that strong talents are capable of bridging the gender divide.

“Probably an important factor that they all have is a very clear global creative leadership, a unique ability to invent and decide with no compromise what are the creative signals that make sense for a given brand today,” said Floriane de Saint Pierre, who runs an executive search and consulting firm in Paris. “Impact and success don’t come just from creativity. It comes from impeccable, fresh and timeless design supported by the most impeccable quality. This current mutual respect between luxury brands and their clients is a key success factor that I find very interesting to watch.”

Gallagher agreed, noting: “If a creative director has a vision of the person he-she is dressing and that vision dovetails with the DNA and customer base of the brand, and if the creative director has had a great success and attention with men’s wear, management are betting the magic will cross over to women’s.”

Ferragamo’s Giornetti allowed that buyers and press were initially skeptical when he took over the women’s collection, given that he came from inside the company and from the men’s team. (Cristina Ortiz and Marc Audibet are among previous designers of Ferragamo women’s.)

“But I think that the choice was pretty natural, because, growing with the company, I had the possibility to catch the essence of the brand,” Giornetti said.

“For me the creative process is exactly the same,” stressed Armani. “For sure women’s wear has more elastic and wide codes compared with men’s wear, but I can say that in my search for a style linked to reality and which refused eccentricity in itself, I have never considered the design of women’s and men’s collections in a different way. The challenge was to adapt sartorial codes to women’s wear, making them liquid, fluid and graceful.”

In Giornetti’s estimation, hiring men’s wear designers for more “feminine” houses is a relatively new avenue for the industry.

“I think this concept is linked to a more modern view of men’s fashion, which was pretty rigid and static. In the last 20 years, many prejudices fell. Men’s wear is now influenced by design and it has introduced innovative fabrics and new techniques,” he explained.

But might an influx of men’s wear mavens ultimately lead to a “masculinization” of fashion?
Pshaw, observers agreed.

“I think it’s fascinating to interpret tailoring in a feminine way and my goal is not to masculinize women but to bring both a sartorial approach and comfort to women’s wear,” said Giornetti.

“I’m excited because it signals the possibility of a new era in fashion beginning now,” said Ed Burstell, managing director of Liberty in London. “Fresh ideas from fresh eyes with a modern perspective — wonderful!”

He stressed that customers ultimately decide if new propositions and directions in fashion flourish or fizzle.
Loppa, for one, argued that women’s fashions could afford to lose some of their frivolity.

“A woman can be sexier with flat shoes and a nice garment or a beautiful hairstyle,” she said. “I see many women in the street walking on those terrible high heels and looking ridiculous.”

Anatomy of CEOs

By Kate Benson 

THE IMAGE OF THE model CEO has changed greatly in the past decade. No longer is there an exact formula to describe the anatomy of perfection in a leader. The archetype of a CEO isn’t necessarily a man occupying the corner office, with decades of experience under his belt. Look at Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, David Karp of Tumblr, or Twitter’s Jack Dorsey— three CEOs and founders under age 35 (Zuckerberg is under 30, Karp is 25 years-old). Anyone who discounts this new CEO model, must adjust their thinking. As of Sept. 2011, Zuckerberg was worth $17.5 Billion—not a bad figure to associate with your company. In addition to youth leaders, more women hold CEO titles in several Fortune 500 companies— including Yahoo, PepsiCo, Kraft Foods, Zerox and, Avon.

Top Leader Attributes

The attributes of a top leader or executive are often hard to define, as leadership is situational. Depending on our world’s variant position politically, economically or socially, your skills as a leader will be tested, and will evolve, based on the times you live in. As the context of your business changes, the role of the CEO will alter under this framework, while still remaining genuine in ability. CEOs have the authority to lead, but also need the emotional intelligence to be self-aware. Not every highly skilled or erudite individual can lead effectively once promoted to high position. Many individuals who are less than extraordinary excel in positions of leadership because they not only have the intelligence and skill required for the roles, but they also have emotional intelligence. Social skills, empathy, motivation, and the ability to be aware and to regulate yourself, will drive you forward as a leader.

Six Defining Differences       

What are the inherent differences that define a successful CEO? Having met hundreds of CEOs in recent years, I see six defining traits:

1. Vision—the ability to push your company, employees and your business beyond where it could go without you.

2. Empathy—the emotional intelligence associated with recognizing and understanding others’ feelings. 

3. Authority—power to determine, or settle issues within your company, controlling or commanding a situation. 

4. Self-Assessment—the ability to recognize and acknowledge the positive and negative attributes of your personality and actions. 

5. Motivation—giving encouragement and providing fellow employees with the incentive to improve, exceland exceed their performances. 

6. Authenticity—having a genuine disposition, and allowing employees to recognize this human attribute,even if it shows flaws.

Risk to Grow

A CEO needs to take personal risks; without this ability, growth from a personal and organizational standpoint will be stunted. Even if you happen to fail, at least you’ll learn from the error—or who knows, there could be a disruptive opportunity that arises out of your blunder. How else do you think computer drives have continued to shrink since the ‘80s? Many innovations were initially considered errors.

We need to recognize these opportunities—even the unsettling ones that are rejected because they seem too outrageous for today’s market—whereas tomorrow, they’ll most likely not only be accepted, but may already be in the process of reevaluation and modernization. The late Steve Jobs, one of the great businessmen of our lifetime, altered society but he did not exhibit many of the qualities of the typical CEO, yet his achievements are unparalleled and his innovations unrivaled. Like many “techies” he was a rebel, an artist and a master of imagination and invention. Like Jobs—and other great leaders who came before and those who will follow—be a change agent, adjust, and remember to step back to see what others can’t. Opportunity is to be found in the margins, the unseen details, even in your own mistakes. LE