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Eileen Fisher Names Patagonia Executive to Succeed Founder as CEO

Portraits of designer Eileen Fisher and former Patagonia executive Lisa Williams, who is taking over as CEO of the Eileen Fisher brand.
Eileen Fisher is handing over the reins of her company to Patagonia executive Lisa Williams. (Guerin Blask/David Walter Banks)

After nearly 40 years, designer Eileen Fisher is handing over the reins to Patagonia’s chief product officer, Lisa Williams.

The executive will start in early September and bring experience scaling an ethical apparel brand, the company said. Fisher will continue to play a central role in product design and brand development and will remain as the company’s board chair.

The appointment ends a near-year-long search for a new chief executive at the company, which Fisher founded in 1984. Williams will be charged with developing the brand’s strategy and operations following the pandemic. The brand generated revenue of $241 million in 2021, down from $393 million pre-pandemic in 2019, though profits have increased over that period, the company said.

While Fisher is the majority shareholder, the rest of the business has been employee-owned since 2006.

In the US, the company is not only known as a sustainability pioneer, but also for its unwavering minimalist style — a subtle, untrendy look not readily available elsewhere in the mass market. In culture, Eileen Fisher has been referenced everywhere from the HBO series Girls to online memes.

Learn more:

Will Fashion Ever Be Good for the World? Its Future May Depend on It.

Aligning profit and purpose, and fulfilling responsibilities to the planet and communities of people beyond shareholders may matter more than ever to long-term success.

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