By Andrea Kennedy
Joseph Abboud has had many a role and name during his more than 30 years in the men’s fashion industry – designer and retailer, innovator and tastemaker, chum and clothier of Tom Brokaw and winner of two consecutive Council of Fashion Designers of America menswear awards. (He’s also been called Gaston, by his daughter, and Yoda, by WAG, November 2011.)
When WAG last featured Abboud, he was overseeing the American lines Hickey Freeman and Hart Schaffner Marx as president and chief creative officer at HMX Group, positions he had held since 2010. Now the Bedford resident has a new title.
After leaving HMX, Abboud wrapped 2012 with a swift move to chief creative officer for The Men’s Wearhouse Inc., the $2.38 billion mega-retailer operating 1,153 North America locations through Men’s Wearhouse, Moores Clothing for Men and K&G.
Though a new role for the master of menswear – and a newly created position within the company – Men’s Wearhouse CEO Doug Ewert says he’ll put to task Abboud’s tried-and-true talents for tailoring, packaging and merchandising to improve offerings. Abboud has fine-tuned the know-how of retail with his roots at famed clothier LouisBoston 12 years deep, his role directing menswear lines at Ralph Lauren and, of course, his award-winning label launched 25 years ago.
With the news, Abboud told WWD (Women’s Wear Daily), “I feel like I’m a retailer trapped in a designer’s body. I love retail and being able to interact and get the message across to the end consumer.”
His duties will include developing existing brands Pronto Uomo, Joseph & Feiss and Wilke Rodriguez, which embrace everything from suits to sportswear and shoes, while also creating and recreating other brands, like his temporarily defunct 2007 line, Jaz, which Men’s Wearhouse has acquired.
“We’ll be working with Joseph to develop the Jaz line to fill a niche in our stores with his signature personal style,” Ewert told WWD.
Though operating from the corporation’s Manhattan offices, Abboud will also retain his Bedford village design studio, where, to the relief of Lord & Taylor lovers, he will continue to design the retailer’s Black Brown 1826 collection that debuted in 2008.
Nationally, his move will likely give the company – known more for tuxedo rentals and low-maintenance dress apparel than designer offerings – an elevated perceived value at accessible prices. It may also foreshadow further international expansion for the brand, as Abboud’s self-named line launched in China in 2008.