EXCLUSIVE: Ulla Johnson Taps New CEO, Thibaut Perrin-Faivre, Former President of Burberry Americas

Thibaut Perrin-Faivre, former president of Burberry Americas, has been named the new chief executive officer of Ulla Johnson. He succeeds Donata Minelli Yirmiyahu, who was Johnson’s first CEO.

Perrin-Faivre will be based at Johnson’s New York headquarters, joining the leadership team and reporting to Ulla Johnson, chairwoman, founder and creative director. In tandem with Johnson, he will lead and implement the company’s global strategy in its next phase of development with a focus on operations and retail. He starts Monday.

Perrin-Faivre spent 11 years with Burberry. He joined the company’s beauty division in its London headquarters, before moving to the Americas region where he led the transformation of its wholesale business. He then moved to the retail division in 2020. In 2021, he was named president of Burberry Americas. A spokeswoman for Burberry was unable to comment on his successor at this time.

In an interview Thursday about his new position at Ulla Johnson, Perrin-Faivre spoke about why he wanted to take this position.

“Ulla has a very creative vision, which is very unique in American fashion, and I think the brand has very strong, viable potential. I was very surprised to see the consistency of the message in every single customer touch point. The professionalism of the team is quite impressive. For me, it’s really a combination of Ulla for what she’s doing and the potential of the brand,” he said.

Perrin-Faivre believes both his retail and European luxury fashion experience will help Johnson further develop her brand.

He said international expansion is one of the priorities, but he wouldn’t say it’s the first. “The first priority is local growth. I think there’s still a lot of potential in America,” he said. He said Johnson has a healthy direct-to-consumer business, “so I would prioritize direct to consumer.” Right now, there are three freestanding stores in Los Angeles, New York City and Amagansett, N.Y.

He said he would like to expand business on the website, which he called “very healthy,” and open more stores. He said Johnson has “a fantastic vision,” because she wants her stores to be a destination. “When you scale a brand, there’s a need of keeping the desirability of the brand unique,” he said.

Backstage at the Ulla Johnson fall 2024 ready-to-wear show at New York Fashion Week.

Backstage at Ulla Johnson’s fall 2024 show.

Kelly Taub/WWD

Perrin-Faivre said Johnson has an openness in developing new categories, as evidenced by her last runway show where she showed women’s clothes on men. She has also explored jewelry as well as shoes. “There is definitely opportunity around accessories,” he said, noting that Johnson designs bags and jewelry in-house and has a footwear license with Himco. Last year Johnson did a home decor collaboration with Cabana, which was exclusive to Net-a-porter and included tableware assortment of tablecloths, plates, hand-embroidered placemats and napkins, as well as Murano water glasses.

Perrin-Faivre said Johnson has a global presence in wholesale. “She has a very good distribution in wholesale — very tight, where it matters — and you can find the right customer to bring brand awareness . . . I wouldn’t expand, I would keep what we have today, and make the most of it,” he said.

In Europe, he looks to expand both wholesale and freestanding stores.

A significant priority is to preserve the culture of the company. “Ulla and her team have a very modern way of doing business. She has a very strong interest in sustainability and she talks a lot about about kindness and management with kindness.” He said those are things that are important, and what he brings to the company as well.

In discussing his appointment, Johnson said, “I am delighted to welcome Thibaut to the company. I very much respect what he has built in his previous roles, most recently as president of Burberry Americas. He brings with him a wealth of experience and his approach to business and luxury is a natural fit as we continue to focus on long-term growth and global expansion. Thibaut also shares our unwavering commitment to the importance of a kind, culture-led creative company,” said Johnson.

Former CEO Yirmiyahu, who plans to do consulting work, said, “When I joined the company in May 2018 focusing on organizational design and global brand development, I never would have imagined the journey that we would have taken over the past six years. Working alongside Ulla to build a company and team filled with both talent and passion to support the broader vision and expansion strategy has been an incredible experience; through the pandemic and beyond. My departure is filled with enthusiasm for all that’s ahead of the brand knowing there is a foundation and culture that is solid for the next phase of growth.”

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