Figue, the New York-based women’s luxury label, has been acquired by entrepreneur Liz Lange, who will become the brand’s chief executive officer and creative director. Lange acquired the brand from Stephanie Von Watzdorf, who founded Figue in 2012 and decided to close down the label as a result of the pandemic.
“Stephanie is a friendly acquaintance of mine through business and the brand. I heard through the grapevine that she was shutting down the brand; I reached out to her — I would say this was in the fall of 2020 — we met for coffee and chatted about it. It turns out, she was planning that. The brand became for sale in December and I acquired it then. It was mid-December,” Lange explained over the phone. “The brand had already shut down, I rehired the team, which I’m so thrilled about. It’s a team of all women, a fantastic group who are extremely dedicated women that are very loyal to the brand and we’re very excited about what I’m calling Figue 2.0. That includes honoring the amazing legacy of this brand; it has a cult following of some of the most fashionable women in the world. I always thought there was so much opportunity.”
Prior to the acquisition, Lange had sold her successful maternity brand, Liz Lange Maternity (including the “for Target” and “for Swoosh” lines), and non-maternity brand Completely Me by Liz Lange for the Home Shopping Network, and launched the fast-fashion online brand Navy Days in 2018. She became an investor in many consumer brands such as Harper Wilde, Bulletin, Twice, Tiny Organics, Hint Water, Core Nutrition, Carbon 38 and PictureStart.
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“In the last few years, I’ve started investing in lots of brands and being active, to varying degrees, depending on the brand. I have especially, to be honest during the shutdown and pandemic, been changing the way that I dress. I’ve always been a Figue customer and a huge fan since its launch in 2012; some of my dresses the [current Figue] team maybe hadn’t seen before, because they were from the first season. I started to notice a trend, that I was even experiencing myself, in softer dressing. I think of Figue’s kaftans, in particular, as the summer and vacation equivalent of the fabulous sweat-sets we’ve been living in, in the Northeast.…I had this kind of brand on my mind, wearing a ton of Figue, wearing lots of different brands that carried items like this, but really feeling like Figue was the best, the gold standard. I’ve always been about that, I felt my brand was the gold standard of maternity.”
Lange’s experience in retail and brand development, combined with her love of Figue since its inception, should help her in her role as CEO and creative director.
She added, “As you can imagine, I wasn’t just buying it as a customer and a fan, but also as somebody who’s had a career in apparel, retail and growing brands. It felt like a win-win-win-win-win.”
The brand is in its “reopening phase,” with an emphasis on direct-to-consumer business (featured on the brand’s first phase of its relaunched website) as well as wholesale. In addition to the brand’s already 70-plus wholesale partners — including Moda Operandi, Net-a-porter, Neiman Marcus, Farfetch, Bergdorf Goodman, specialty boutiques and more — Lange has hired a position internally to expand wholesale sales in Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
Since Jan. 1, Lange has been hard at work not only revamping Figue’s website and sales businesses, but also focusing on apparel — expanding the offering to be more robust, both categorically and in pricing.
“What I think is interesting about the brand is it’s hard to build a brand, very hard, that resonates so much with customers. It’s a crowded marketplace. I think the Figue name means that to so many women. Now, it’s about the excitement of expanding the product offering. Figue is always traditionally mostly wovens, but we’re diving fairly heavily into knits as well. Figue has always lived at the high end of the marketplace with most prices retailing anywhere from $700, $1,500, $2,000 or $3,000; we will always have those pieces — that remains important — but we will widen the breadth of price points.…I wanted there to be a greater variety to hit more women.”
The spring 2021 collection, which is now available on the brand’s website, was Von Watzdorf’s last; resort 2022 will mark Lange’s first, which she will present to the press and retailers in line with the resort calendar. The brand’s official “relaunching” will occur as the resort collection lands in stores in October.
Hinting at the resort 2022 collection, Lange will unveil new takes on the brand’s signature luxe gypset élan in partnership with the same small global artisans that the company has partnered with since its inception. While Figue’s core and strength will always be dresses and kaftans, expect to see an expansion into mix-and-match separates, knits and new fabrications.
“I’m very focused on keeping what’s important to Figue — the hand-sewn embroideries, the hand-cut tassels and pom-poms. Things that aren’t machine made, but by artisan hand. But I do want to move away from every dress being silk, not just because it’s so expensive, but because i don’t find it very modern. We’re looking at all the newest blends.”
Cotton-silk blends, rayon viscoses out of Italy and India, and other fabrications were noted as ones that will sit alongside the brand’s signature cashmeres and silks.
Down the road, Lange sees the expansion into accessories — such as sunglasses, belts, bags, sun hats, possibly jewelry and footwear (potentially as early as October), swim and cover-ups, and eventually home goods and decor.
Leading up to the fall relaunch, Lange and her team are in the process of finding a new Upper East Side location for the Figue office-cum-showroom, which will double as a by-appointment shopping location for customers (as the brand has historically done). Following her focus on direct-to-consumer and wholesale businesses, the CEO and creative director hopes to expand retail in the future in both New York and destination locations alongside upcoming pop-up shops and trunk shows.
“I feel so thrilled to have the opportunity to shepherd this brand to its next phase. It’s already such a fantastic brand, I think the opportunities are endless. I’m being bullish on apparel right now, I see the exuberance that people want to get dressed up again and going shopping again. A lot of people questioned me about that.…‘Oh, buying an apparel brand during the pandemic?’ But I know women love to shop, I never believed for a second they would give up on that.”
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