Affliction Clothing Brings In Exec Talent, Looks To Diversify

December 8, 2008

The Orange County Business Journal reports that Affliction is bringing in additional executive talent in order to help provide more infrastructure to the company and facilitate more opportunities for diversification:

Seal Beach-based Affliction Inc. has tapped a group of seasoned apparel industry executives to help the edgy clothier make a headlong push into women’s clothes, designer jeans and licensing next year.

The new executive lineup represents a sea change for the company, which is known for the rock star image of its clothing, clientele and management. Affliction has wooed the well-photographed with its clothes and accessories, which are inspired by tattoos, punk rock and heavy metal music and mixed martial arts.

The privately held company hopes to maintain the dizzying pace of growth it’s seen since starting the Affliction brand in 2005. Affliction now generates more than $125 million in yearly revenue selling clothes under the Affliction, Sinful and Xtreme Couture labels at Seattle-based Nordstrom Inc., Fred Segal and Lisa Kline of Los Angeles and smaller stores such as Huntington Beach-based Electric Chair and SX in Irvine.

Co-owners Eric Foss, Clifton Chason, Courtney Dubar and Todd Beard have been managing Affliction on their own for the past three years. The company needed to bring in experienced executives to help manage growth and prepare for future initiatives, Foss said. “The business grew so rapidly and it just got to a certain point where we needed an infrastructure below us,” he said. The new executive team should help the company work out the kinks as it ventures into new areas, Foss said.

The company plans to unveil a women’s clothing line under the Affliction label next year, which will sell for $95 to $600. Plans to license the Affliction brand to watchmakers and sunglasses makers next year are in the works, Foss said. The company, which opened an Affliction store in Los Angeles earlier this year, also has plans to open more shops in Miami, New York and Las Vegas in 2009.

Some in the apparel industry wonder if now is the right time for Affliction to roll out stores and launch products. The economic downturn that has slammed retailers and apparel makers especially hard does indeed pose challenges for Affliction, Foss said. Affliction hasn’t seen a dip in sales and plans to get through the downturn by strengthening its cachet as an “it brand,” he said. “The brand is doing better than ever, so there would be no reason to not launch these plans,” Foss said.

The article mentions that Affliction group as a whole does around $125 million in revenue, so using Tom Atencio’s prior statements about the MMA brand making up a 20 to 25% of their brand mix, you can peg their Affliction MMA Apparel at somewhere around $25 to $35 million in revenues. Not huge numbers, but profitable nonetheless. Affliction by virtue of it’s chosen niche as a premium brand is never going to be a market share monster.

The Beard vs Couture situation is mentioned in the article and may be somewhat of a precursor of the the new execs coming in. However, the move seems kind of reminiscent of Tapout bringing in some one like Marc Kreiner to provide a more seasoned professional management of the company. As good a job as the original owners have done of a job at launching the brand, at some point there is usually a need to bring in folks that have the knowledge to take the business to the next level in marketing, distribution, etc.

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