David Briskin is chief executive of Sass & Bide, a position he has held since 2009, when he invested in the company with proceeds from the sale of Mimco, an Australian accessories brand he founded and ran with his former wife.
The executive intends to construct an Australian luxury group with Sass & Bide as its cornerstone. Briskin says, “Fashion’s still a fairly new industry here, there’s money to be made from clothes here, [but] original design is crucial. This is not a business that copies trend, or even follows trend – and that’s the strength.”
Briskin believes the commercial success of Australia’s first luxury group should not come at high human cost, echoing the sentiment of Sarah Jane Clarke and Heidi Middleton, Sass & Bide’s founders and designers, who joined the International Trade Centre's Ethical Fashion Initiative. “Fashion needs to be fairer, at our end of the market, ethical production is very achievable.''
Although Briskin is modest when defining his role in Sass & Bide ("I am here to help and do all the boring stuff"), the executive has a clear view of what it will take to build a brand out of the fashion label. "You have got to keep your eye on the product, designing and producing fantastic products, and then in expanding the business you have got to get the right systems and controls in place. You have to listen to customers, make sure you have control of your inventory and work closely with major partners.”
In 2011, Briskin was instrumental in arranging for a 65 stake of Sass & Bide to be sold to the Australian department store chain Myer for $42 million. He became executive chairman of the company in 2013, when Myer took full control of the brand for another $30 million.