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Marcella Wartenbergh, CEO of Pepe Jeans, Hackett and Façonnable: “Clothing no longer contains harmful chemicals”

Marcella Wartenbergh It is, since 2019, the CEO of All We Wear Group (AWWG)the group made up of brands Pepe Jeans, Hackett and Façonnable. But Marcella Wartenbergh is many things more. A born leader, a person with a constant desire to learn, passionate about her work and, for many experts, one of the most powerful women in Mexico.

Before getting to where he is, Wartenbergh has gone through a multitude of positions and teams, learning from the bottom up how the business works. The secret from him, he assures MagasINhas been “always accept all projects proposed to me” without fear of failure.

“For me personally it is very important that people take responsibility. Do you want this project? Well, take it. It’s what I did and thanks to that I learned and met many people who have filled me with ideas and advice. I think “You have to say yes, you don’t have to be afraid.”.

“I grew a lot horizontally, That is to say, he was changing from one position to another and then he received a promotion. This made me learn a lot about the business,” she says.

In addition to her effort and determination to grow at work, Wartenbergh affirms that “the doors in this industry are the easiest for women to grow when they want.” The point is that you have to have “flexibility” because she “demands a lot, has very difficult schedules and a lot of trips.”

“It is a sector in which there are many women, but it is true that at a certain point in their lives many choose, for personal reasons, to pause their careers a little longer. That adaptability is important.”

The AWWG Challenge

In 2019 he was offered to direct All We Wear Group from Madrid and he didn’t think too much about it. “I am hooked on challenges, on changes, but above all by wanting to be better, to continue growing. I believe that as human beings we should never become conformists, we have to learn and accept that we do not know everything.”

His passion for change has made him stand out in the business transformation, which is precisely the objective that has brought him to AWWG. “For me, the challenge is being able to transform these three brands that are spectacular, Pepe Jeans, Hackett and Façonnable, each with its own style. PVH is a company that gave me a lot and I was very happy in it, but if you are in your comfort zone you stop being afraid and stop being innovative”.

To transform AWWG, the first thing he did was precisely change the name of the group. “When I arrived I thought it was very important that we all be on the same page. We have very powerful brands, but no one recognizes the group. That’s why the first thing was that each one can have its own name, but they will all have the same last name: All We Wear Group. “I think that unity and collaboration was the most important part to be able to begin the transformation.”

With this joint vision, Marcella Wartenbergh and her team developed a plan based on five pillars: “Product and brand; the consumer, focused on the concept of engagement; distribution, thinking about all channels; digitalization; and finally, our community, our people.” For Wartenbergh, his people, his team, whom he does not stop praising during the interview, are “the most important element.”

“You can have a brand, a product, but the results will come from the people,” he emphasizes.

Sustainability as a priority

All of this, with sustainability as the main focus, a topic that Wartenbergh is passionate about and that he considers completely necessary. “Being sustainable is a responsibility, it is not an obligation. I agree and I love that governments are pushing us to make certain decisions faster and that they are supporting us. It is a transformation that requires people, investment, a mindset… “You have to train people to think differently.”

Like its transformation plan, the company’s path to sustainability is based on four values ​​or four ‘P’s:

“The first is the product. Here we talk about using sustainable materials, eliminating most chemicals. We no longer have any chemicals that can harm the planet, none. All our jeans They have zero harmful chemicals. Currently three out of four jeans that come out of this company, sustainable materials are manufactured. In addition, we save a lot of water. Before we used up to 25 liters for a few washes and now we do it with a cup. “We’re very proud of that.”

The second p refers to the partners with whom AWWG works. “We want them to be ethically transparent, to support diversity, to be companies that really also support the challenges of sustainability in emissions, energy… In short, for our partners to think like we do.”

Then there would be places (places). “We also have a responsibility in our offices, in our stores, in our warehouses. Because if we have a very sustainable product, but then we use all the water in our warehouse, what good is it? Or our e-commerce packaging, which now It is totally recycled.”

As the last value is, again, the people (p of people). “To be a sustainable company we have to think about our people and their quality of life. We spend many hours in the offices and that is why it is important to have fresh air, flexible entry and exit times, remote hours… “.

Pandemic and opportunity

The arrival of Covid in 2020 forced them to modify their plan, although without losing sight of that final objective. What’s more, Wartenbergh saw the pandemic as another opportunity to innovate and think about everything differently. “As a company, we identify many areas of opportunity. Sometimes we need like a shake (a shock or revulsion) in life to be able to say: we face it and move forward.

“The pandemic changed us as human beings, in the way we work, do business… And it also helped us remove certain fears. It forced us to take certain risks in the processes, things you thought were unimaginable like remote work for everyone. “I think it showed us that we could work very well digitally, being more united than ever.”

A few weeks before they had begun to implement their “Reset” program and, with the arrival of the pandemic, they asked themselves the following question: how can we use it? Thus, they maintained that five-priority plan, but focusing on digitalization and the development of the e-commerce (digital commerce) and social networks.

“We also take advantage of it in the product part to reconnect with the DNA of our brands and with the consumer. “We reorganized ourselves, we restructured the functions…”

That transformation, in circumstances as complicated as the pandemic, was quite a challenge, but Wartenbergh feels very proud of the effort made. “We have more than 4,000 employees and when you have a team and we all have to get ahead together, I tell you that 4,000 families get ahead. You can feel very proud.”

Furthermore, all of this has brought with it very good results and the CEO hopes to continue that path. “From a financial point of view, we will continue to grow. Recently, we have submitted the reports and We have made EBITDA 175% higher than before Covid. “I feel very proud because it was a result that cost a lot for all the people, but today the company is stronger.”

For the future, Wartenberh declares that they will continue with their transformation plan, giving another look to each of their brands, although maintaining their essence, and also announces that Hackett will give “many surprises.”

“Hackett has always positioned itself as a very classic, but modern men’s brand. But In the coming months we will launch the women’s part because there is also a business womana woman who wants to dress professionally.”

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