Sean John executive Jeff Tweedy explains how loyalty pays off
Jeff Tweedy discovered he had a love for fashion when as a young man he started working in retail at Washington, D.C. ‘s iconic Britches of Georgetowne clothier.
Tweedy’s enthusiasm grew as he worked his way up at Neiman Marcus and became the youngest sales manager. “I knew I was passionate about the business in a big way,” says Tweedy, president of Sean John Clothing Inc.
In 1998, Sean Combs decided he wanted to venture into fashion; Tweedy was there. “We first started with a baseball hat and a t-shirt,” Tweedy enlightens us. “Now we do everything from footwear to dresses to suits to topcoats to dress shirts, ties, little girls to boys and now watches to footwear. We have 16 different categories that we ship to the stores and provide to our customer base.”
The customer base that Tweedy mentions has been loyal. And Sean John has been equally devoted. “In everything we do, we have a customer in mind. We don’t veer from our customer.”
Sean John made its fashion debut with a men’s sportswear collection for the spring 1999 season. In 2004, Combs was honored by the Council of Fashion Designers of America as Men’s Wear Designer of the Year for his Sean John brand.
When you mention three buzzwords — fashion, lifestyle, luxury — to Tweedy, here’s what comes to his mind: “I think it’s all one. Mr. Combs has always talked about and been a part. Every time you see him, he exudes it on yachts, wearing beautiful suits, with his daughters in a luxury setting, and fashion is what we do. There’s a certain lifestyle that our consumer embraces, and we want to play a major part in it.”
Tweedy helped launch Sean John nearly 20 years ago. According to his bio, in 2005, he left Sean John to serve at G-III Apparel Group as president of the Company’s sportswear division for two years, where he developed the Exsto brand exclusively for Wal-Mart. Prior to his tenure at Sean John, Tweedy served as vice president of Karl Kani Jeans and was sales manager at Ralph Lauren Womenswear and national sales manager of Knitwear at Hugo Boss.
Tweedy returned to Sean John in late 2007. He was named president of the company in 2012 and assumed responsibility for all aspects of the company’s operations, including strategic brand development, design and all of the Sean John licensing and retail partners.
In May 2010, Sean John signed a deal with Macy’s to be the exclusive U.S. department store retailer for the Sean John men’s sportswear collection beginning in Holiday 2010. The Sean John products are available online at macys.com and in over 400 Macy’s stores across the country.
In conveying why the brand’s relationship with Macy’s so important, Tweedy says, “It’s the largest department store in the world. They are great partners. They have stores all across the country. That ensures that our consumers from Seattle to Miami to Texas and Buffalo can access our goods.
“I personally have a relationship with Macy’s Terry Lundgren [chairman of the board and CEO] and Jeff Gennette [president]. I’ve had a relationship with them for over 20 years. It was a natural partnership for Sean John. They’ve been great partners. Our customer base loves Macy’s.”
Having been in the fashion business for nearly two decades, the FIT graduate has witnessed major changes. “The market has changed dramatically. When we started the brand, there were 36 other companies in this arena. None of them exist anymore except Sean John. That [success] came as a result of sticking with our mission to be a sophisticated young men’s lifestyle brand. We’ve stuck with that, and that’s why we have been able to maintain our business and consumer base and grow with our consumer for almost 20 years now.”
Sean John, a privately held company, has annual retail sales in the United States of over $525 million.
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