About a year ago, we put the spotlight on the string of big-name hires going down at Apple, with the team in Cupertino expanding to include a string of high-profile fashion executives. At the time, the new personnel was believed to be a major push forward in Apple's wearable tech division—something that would culminate with the release of the (critically divisive) Apple Watch earlier this year.
But for a company as mysterious as Apple, you have to wonder what those big names are actually doing to help move the company forward. Sure, big names like ex-Burberry chief exec Angela Ahrendts have made their roles known, but what impact have players like former Hermès designer Marc Newson, and Nike's former senior director social media, Musa Tariq, left on Apple? As noted in Business of Fashion, quite a bit.
Aside from Ahrendts, the hiring of Paul Deneve, former CEO of Yves Saint Laurent, was a major play for the tech company. While his initial role was centered around the vague "Special Projects" realm, it appears that his work has centered around his extensive history in global marketing. The unspoken understanding is that he's the one of the major forces behind the Apple Watch.
Marc Newson, who designed for Louis Vuitton, Hermès, and Azzedine Alaïa, teamed up directly with Apple's Chief Design Officer (aka wizard) Jony Ive, to actually design the Apple Watch you see on wrists today. It was Newson's previous work, with the Ikepod in the 1990's, that ultimately informed so much of the Apple Watch today.
But perhaps the biggest expansion is in Apple's desire to assimilate into the fashion industry. Ex-GQ editor and former Gilt Group PR director Lance Lin was hired to bring his set of fashion-based contacts into the fold at Apple. Nike alum Musa Tariq tips off Apple's newfound interest in social media marketing—something that's been more business-addled keynote quotes, than surprise appearances from Drake (and his vintage Apple jacket). Anita Borzyszkowska, formerly of Gap's global PR team, was instrumental in getting other fashion big names like Karl Lagerfeld on board with the Apple Watch. Remember the Apple Watch's major "introduction" through a Vogue China cover story? That's Borzyszkowska at work.
With Apple's focus on fashion in the past year, there's no doubt that what's at work is—not just a tech giant, but a lifestyle brand. Adding the power these executives pull—from worldwide sales experience to industry insider partnerships—is a move that connects Apple with the lifestyle brands it's trying to emulate and partner with. It's clear that the Apple Watch isn't just Apple's latest experiment, it's the latest luxury product the world needs to have.
(Now if only they'd release more info on that damn Apple car...)