Eileen Fisher will reportedly step down as CEO of Eileen Fisher at the beginning of 2022 to focus on design, with the goal of eventually moving away from that role as well, according to WWD. She still plans to remain very involved with the retailer, including continuing to serve as chair of the board, but will step back from day-to-day operations.
“I have tried before to let go and it’s just that I’m ready now,” said Fisher in an interview with WWD. “It’s the right time. It’s clear to me. It’s been an intense year with COVID and all, and it’s been an opportunity to rethink and reorganize the business, and sort of simplify and bring it back to what I originally intended.”
The company is looking for a leader who can work across multiple channels, including ecommerce and social platforms. Fisher herself noted that brick-and-mortar also is an important part of the business despite the challenges driven by COVID-19. The brand’s Lab store, which features live lessons and emphasizes the resale opportunities available through the Renew line, has been particularly resilient through the pandemic.
“We’re pretty committed to our stores and we’re watching them come back to life after COVID,” said Fischer. “It was a tough time, really tough. I’m a big believer in the physical presence of people working with customers, touching and feeling our product. You kind of have to understand it and try it on. Our best customers are the ones who do both. They come into our stores and also shop online.”
Fisher sees sustainability as central to the brand, which makes the resale aspect particularly important. The retailer’s efforts include a partnership with resale platform Trove, which helps Eileen Fisher repurpose clothes from any state of wear. Lightly used clothing is refurbished to good-as-new status and sold as part of Renew, while pieces that are beyond repair are repurposed as pillows, bags and artwork through the Waste No More program.
Fisher noted that it’s important that the new CEO continue the company’s sustainability work. She will have some overlap time with the new leader and remain available to help them learn and understand the brand’s values, which has been key to maintaining popularity with the younger generations.
“What we already see is they are really interested in our sustainability work,” said Fisher. “Actually, we’ve come back to much more simplicity. They’re interested in the simple clothes. They’re interested in our Renew program and the whole take-back. I think the design itself is becoming more right for the next generation.”