Everlane appoints new CEO, restructures leadership
Everlane, the mission-oriented, San Francisco-based casual fashion brand, is entering a new chapter.
Founder Michael Preysman will step down as CEO to become executive chairman and climate activist.
More from WWD
Andrea O’Donnell joins the company as CEO.
O’Donnell was previously President of Fashion Lifestyle at Deckers Brands, where she transformed Ugg from a sleepy cold-weather boot company into a fashion actor through designer collaborations and influencer campaigns featuring everything the world, from DJ Peggy Gou to fashion editor André Leon Talley.
For the remainder of the year, Preysman and O’Donnell will work together to manage the transition. They will take their respective roles from January 1, 2022 and will continue to work together to place environmental impact at the center of the business.
Private equity / tech-haired Preysman founded Everlane in 2010 with a mission to sell ethically made clothing with transparent prices. Modern basics have a minimalist appeal. Some pieces, including Wide Leg Crop Pants, ReWool Coats, Day Glove Leather Flats, and Market Totes, have achieved cult status thanks to fans like Meghan Markle.
In recent years, Everlane has focused on reducing environmental impact and is on track to eliminate 90 percent of virgin plastics from its apparel materials by the end of 2021, which is 10 percent below the target it set for itself in 2018. Over the past two years, the brand has incorporated 1 million pounds of post-consumer and post-industrial recycled material into its product. Last week Everlane released two styles of ReLeather sneakers using a patchwork of recycled leather and polyester scraps, requiring 80% less water to produce.
“Everlane is a special type of business. We have two programs, one is to bring about change in the industry and the world at large, and we have reshaped our image to focus on environmental efforts, ”said Preysman. “At the same time, we have a business to scale. It’s a two-man job. I’ll be focusing on impact and environmental work, and we wanted to get the best person to take the business forward and we found that in Andrea.
“We both hit it off on our first conversation, it was a partnership at first glance,” he said with a laugh. “She has had a huge impact on the retail world.”
“I’ve been watching them for a long time and there’s something exciting about a brand that since its inception has challenged the industry to create new values for consumers. It got me excited 10 years ago. And now, Everlane inspires us to live our best lives with the least impact on the planet. It’s modern and progressive, what I need now and the world needs now, ”said O’Donnell, a Briton who has work experience in DFS Group department stores, Lane Crawford and John Lewis in the UK. -United.
“We share values, an incredible taste in food and design,” said Preysman. “I have a lot to learn from her about building an empathetic and responsible culture. It is something that we are looking for and trying to improve.
Last year, Everlane was criticized by a group of former employees for selling to the world an image that did not match their experiences with the corporate culture, leading to public allegations of racist behavior and denigration of unions. The brand has also been named a sustainable development “offender” by the fashion organization Remake, for failing to respect transparency and worker well-being initiatives.
Preysman has been a vocal critic of greenwashing in the industry, pushing for innovation in Everlane materials, including recycled denim, cashmere and leather. He was also candid about the effect of COVID-19 on the brand, saying supply chain issues and labor shortages will take years to recover.
O’Donnell will be responsible for leading Everlane’s 350-person team, strategy, resource allocation, and overseeing and developing product offerings. It starts on October 6.
“I’ve had a pretty traditional career in corporate retail for a long time, helping brands realize their true potential, so I would expect my expertise to be different from Michael’s. From the start we have been clear on the opportunities, this helps the team tackle the supply chain challenges and the inflation seen across the industry, these are the issues I will focus on short. term, ”she said. “Michael will be handling the day-to-day product launches until January, when he will transition to his new role of taking Everlane to a new level and new visibility in the climate space, and how we relate that good job on brand strategy. “
Could it be more of a fashion game, in line with O’Donnell’s designer and celebrity collaborations at Ugg?
“It’s something we’ve had conversations about,” she said. “Everlane leads with a responsible drinking message, and we tell stories about being responsible and respectful of the planet. Fashion does not always lend itself to this. It’s important at Everlane that our storytelling is focused on longevity. But fashion is the kind of thing that turns people on and makes them pay attention. I don’t know all the answers yet.… There is going to be a lasting storytelling that will give us excitement through product innovation, and we will determine how appropriate it is for a responsible brand to talk more about fashion. .