Elaine Fisher stepped down as CEO


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Eileen Fisher is the CEO of her eponymous fashion brand. Lisa Williams, Patagonia’s chief product officer, will assume the role in early September.

Fisher will remain involved in the brand’s product design, while Williams will lead day-to-day operations, committed to both sustainable growth and responsible business practices.

“I’m building a blueprint for the company to be in a position where it can stand on its own,” says Fisher. That design speaks to the Eileen Fisher brand’s sustainable, timeless approach to fashion, as well as its circular business model. “It’s time to let someone else lead it.”

Lisa Williams.

Photo: David Walter Banks

In the year Since launching her brand in 1984, Fisher has been one of the industry’s leading advocates for sustainability, addressing fashion’s role in textile waste and overproduction, as well as the importance of a circular supply chain. In the year In 2009, it was one of the first fashion brands to promote recycling and introduce the Eileen Fisher Micro-Factory, where textile waste is turned into new products, when it introduced its recycling program. Fisher, who heads her company’s philanthropic arm, the Eileen Fisher Foundation, partnered with design and technology consultancy Pentatonic in July to launch a report on circular fashion models as an open playbook for the rest of the industry.

In addition to overseeing design, her continued involvement with the company will include helping to direct branding and messaging. She will also continue to lead the foundation, and plans to continue advocating for sustainable fashion. “I think of the company as a force for good. It’s something I’m proud of,” says Fisher.

At Patagonia, Williams was promoted to Chief Product Officer in 2015, where she oversees Patagonia products from design to production, merchandising and inventory management. In her new role, she will lead the brand’s future direction as a leader in sustainability and Fisher’s “good growth” and profitability. “It’s a challenge for all of us to make the right progress in a circular business model that finds the right balance between manufacturing and selling new and recycled products,” Williams said. “Eileen Fisher has a genuine and long-standing passion for doing business the right way and today’s customers are looking to support responsible businesses.”

“Giving insight is difficult. [growth] As a sustainable company – our values, the problems with consumption and overproduction,” Fisher says. “The industry needs a big change and it’s sustainable, and I think there’s a lot that Lisa and I, the foundation and the company, can do to help the industry.

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