An Englishman in New York, once was the term coined for a Brit expat learning his way in New York, but now the UK seems to be playing host to a number of US immigrants heading up big business in the British fashion industry.
Why? Largely in internet, media connected days, companies view it as means to global expansion and also are attracted by the harder, money making approach of American counterparts, ‘in the UK there is often a reluctance to address the real issues,’ explains Ed Burstell, head buyer for Liberty, and a New York import.
Other top brands recruiting transatlantic transplants include, the appointment of Anna-Lisa Froman at Smythson, Ruth Runberg, formerly of Saks Fifth Avenue and Barneys to be buying director at Browns boutique, Scott Temper of Bergdorf Goodman as head of luxury at Kurt Geiger, Josh Shulman at Jimmy Choo and Alison Loehnis at Net-a-porter.
Its proving to be a cultural exchange that works all ways; the stronger, sales focused American approach doesn’t offer creative opportunities, so US buyers come here and get to experiment a bit more – a great combination.
And obviously in expansion terms, American employees can take a global perspective and offer contacts and first-hand experience in new territories, as well as cover various different US states.
It also could be an attempt by brands looking to emulate the Burberry story, whom as a flagging outerwear brand brought in Rosie Marie Bravo, in 1997, from Saks to phenomenal turnaround effects. She hired Christopher Bailey as creative director, started rapid US expansion plans and to 2003 saw figures fly in sales to $1bn. The brand still leads the way under another American Angela Ahrendts, with figures showing strong year on year rise in sales.
With Bravo now at British brand Jack Wills, this might be the next one to watch.
Photo: Burberry SS11