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In 2020, office spaces around the country began to resemble the ghost towns of the Wild West. Still, Suzy Biszantz, group president of men’s and women’s at Centric Brands, was determined to find an in-person space for her teams that would balance safety and productivity. To do so, she traversed to the Arts District of Los Angeles and secured a workspace that could also facilitate the growth of the company, where she oversees its Favorite Daughter, Herve Leger, Hudson, Buffalo Jeans and Izod brands.
“It’s important that your creative people who touch product are able to actually touch and feel and be around the product,” said Biszantz on the Glossy podcast. “We rented a new building that’s 20,000 square feet, has 10 separate entrances and is all one story.”
The building’s other Covid-safe features include ample outdoor space for collaborative meetings, a lack of elevators, and separate exits and entrances.
Each brand needs its own space because each is focused on different objectives, she said. “[For] each brand, you have to look at the total potential,” when determining its DTC, wholesale and retail strategies,” she said.
In the same way, not every brand is focusing its marketing strategy on collaborations with influencers, which is a unique challenge.
“You have to strike the right balance of operational support, logistics support, strategic support,” she said, regarding a brand’s role in influencer partnerships. “But you can’t lose and water down the authenticity of who you’re collaborating with.”
Below are additional highlights from the conversation, which have been lightly edited for clarity.
On the growth of Centric Brands
“As of about six months ago, we strategically reorganized. We have three pillars: accessories, kids’, and men’s and women’s apparel. I’m the group president for men’s and women’s, and within that is Joe’s and Hudson and Favorite Daughter based out in L.A. Favorite Daughter is our digital-first startup, and Joe’s and Hudson are long-term and successful premium denim brands. On the East Coast is Herve Leger, a luxury dress business that has had a good couple [of] years and has terrific leadership in New York City. We recently acquired the license for sportswear for Izod … as well as a new license with Caterpillar, entering into that workwear trend that we’ve seen some brands be quite successful with.”
The future of physical retail
“Having run stores for most of my career, I am aware of [the fact that] it’s all about having the right opportunity and a good lease. You can control the brand, you can control the quality of the product. But you also need to make sure the economics of the real estate you choose is something that works for the brand. The other thing is, we are going through a shift in where people shop. As you think about some of the traditional cities that owned the retail market, you’re definitely seeing shifts of people moving state to state, and then also into some more rural or suburban markets where a mall is indoors or outdoors. We want to do something out of the box for Favorite Daughter, [like] a pop-up, and then we will work to convert that to a permanent location.”
The Covid-19 effect
“The most challenging obstacle that we’re dealing with right now across all the brands is logistics and supply chain. Getting product here is a challenge and [is] maybe something that we didn’t necessarily see was coming or that wouldn’t have been on our radar at this level, pre-Covid 19… It changes how you think about running a business. The cost of goods is also difficult. Prices are going up, and we see that in a macro way in our environment and in our economy, and you’re seeing it [reflected] in our cost of goods. It’s making sure that each of your products looks and feels like they’re worth the price that you’re charging. One of the things that worries me the most is the impact that the last year-and-a-half has had on many people and how I can make sure that our company, our brands, the brands I’m managing are places that our employees and our associates want to work.”