London Fog Industries Inc., parent company of Pacific Trail, Moonstone, Black Dot, London Fog and the London Fog Factory Outlet Stores, has hired 20-year textile industry veteran David Greenstein as its new chief executive officer. Greenstein's home textile business, formerly known as Homestead Fabrics Ltd., will now operate as HHI Homestead Holdings Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of London Fog Industries.Â Greenstein will also assume a position on the board of directors of London Fog Industries.
"We are building an entrepreneurial company that can move quickly to bring new products to market across diverse categories," said Greenstein. "We see excellent growth opportunities for the Pacific Trail, Moonstone and Black Dot brands and will ensure that the integrity of these brands is maintained as they grow."
Greenstein took Homestead from a start-up to a $100 million business in six years, primarily through sales of private-label home products focused on the nation's largest retailers. Now, he told SNEWSÂ®, he's excited about brand building in a different way.
"Brands intrigue me -- building them, recognizing potential, moving them to the next level. The challenge is invigorating," Greenstein said. "My background has been on the private label side of the biz, building brands for other businesses, and I thought it would be very nice to realize the long-term benefits of building brands from an ownership perspective."
In Moonstone, Greenstein sees so much potential he's almost giddy.
"With the right support, I see no reason why Moonstone can't take its place alongside other name-brand competitors. Moonstone has a strong core of users, but now we need an image-uplift without diluting the brand's integrity," Greenstein said. "I think we have the beginnings of that movement with the Lucid jacket -- it is very stylized and is having an appeal at a level well beyond the hardcore Moonstone customer."
Lest you chuckle at the thought of hearing the words stylized and image in the same sentence as Moonstone, contemplate this: MTV actually contacted Moonstone wanting to buy 100 Lucid jackets for a Spike TV Video Games Award Show airing on Dec. 14 at 9 p.m. (check local listings, if you dare). Seems the producers had seen the Lucid, thought it was cool and wanted to give them away as part of the celebrity talent gift bags. If you can get your hands around the idea that Snoop Dog, Ludacris, Motley Crew, Funk Master, Tara Reid, Pam Anderson and Tony Hawk may soon be prancing and dancing around in a Moonstone jacket, you understand Greenstein's excitement at Moonstone's potential.
"What happens is when you get a couple of pieces in the line that manage to sell beyond the normal and traditional customer of that brand, the dollars you are able to generate are very helpful to keep the entire line moving forward," Greenstein told us.
To get the ball rolling, Greenstein has already radically changed the internal structure at Pacific Trail, Moonstone and Black Dot.
"Traditionally, this company has been a salesperson-driven company where designers reported to merchandisers who reported to sales," said Greenstein. "No longer. Designers need to report to a creative director, and designs should be allowed to flourish. If you are only going to listen to a salesperson, it is likely you'll be yesterday's news.
"Designers need a champion in any company, and because creativity needs to be championed at the highest level, I have made a reporting structure that allows them to have their seat at the table. Fashion, style, fit, color, function -- they are all equally important," said Greenstein.
And the designer's champion is newly-appointed creative director Stacy Haase. Her background includes more than 20 years' experience in home textiles and home products design. She also recently launched Stacy Haase, what the company referred to in a press release as, and we're not kidding "an eponymous women's contemporary fashion ready-to-wear line, critically acclaimed in WWD, Glamour, Marie Claire and Lucky Magazine."Â Haase's designs have been featured on the CBS Early Show and Will and Grace and the Stacy Haase collection is currently available at Saks Fifth Avenue. Greenstein stated that the company has plans to merge the Stacy Haase line into its portfolio of brands in the near future.
Pacific Trail will be updated and become more relevant, Greenstein told us, but it will not target markets outside of the middle department store tier.
What will change, however, is that the company will seek to leverage the Pacific Trail name, like Eddie Bauer and Woolrich have done with their brand names, and launch a home lifestyle business.
"We're basing the launch on our crossover lifestyle line on the appeal and romance of the Pacific Northwest with a selection of down comforters and flannel sheets that will be available to Pacific Trail retailers for fall 2005," Greenstein said.
Despite all the internal shifts in operations and procedure, no management changes are planned for either Moonstone or Pacific Trail at this time. Roger Bird will continue as vice president of sales for Pacific Trail and Black Dot, and Hoby Douglass will continue as vice president of sales for Moonstone.
SNEWSÂ® View: We couldn't have used the word eponymous in a story if we'd tried, but thanks to the London Fog release, we can now say (after running to the Webster's along with just about every editor in the country) that we're glad we don't have to use that word again and hope that further releases from the company remain equable so we can maintain our reputations as a luculent source of meaningful industry news and information. Â
Now that we have that off of our chests, we can state for the record a hearty hooray for the arrival of David Greenstein. What a breath of entrepreneurial fresh air for a company that has operated as if, dare we say it, the trench coat was a cutting-edge fashion statement. Gloves are off, shackles have been removed, no more "you can't do that" management oversight, and resources are being made available with an eye toward growth, and that is all good for Moonstone and Black Dot. Expect to see more marketing, better trade show presence, and stronger and more focused lines with collections that actually relate to each other and are infinitely more easily merchandised as a result. Greenstein did assure us that the sleeping bag collection at Moonstone would remain as an important part of the family, but we did get the distinct feeling that apparel, outerwear and related products was where most of the energy would be focused.