Lands’ End CEO out who authorized photo spread interview of Gloria Steinem

By Dave Andrusko

This photo spread interview with Gloria Steinem triggered a storm of criticism and a hasty retreat by Lands' End.

This photo spread interview with Gloria Steinem triggered a storm of criticism and a hasty retreat by Lands’ End.

Seems like it was only yesterday–actually it was last February—when Federica Marchionni, the CEO of Lands’ End, decided it would be a really cool idea to run a photo spread interview with (of all people) Gloria Steinem in its spring catalogue .

Pro-lifers barraged the Dodgeville, Wisconsin-based retailer of traditional clothing and the company beat a hasty retreat. This spurred pro-abortionists to trash Lands’ End for not being cool/hip enough to run a slavishly servile interview with a woman who is often described as a pro-abortion “icon.”

Well, come to find out (courtesy of USA Today)

Federica Marchionni, who tried to bring a more luxurious flair to middle-American retailer Lands’ End, has stepped down from her role as CEO, the company announced Monday.

Marchionni’s turbulent tenure came to an end less than two years after she took the helm of the Dodgeville, Wis.- based retailer. James Gooch, Lands’ End’s executive vice president and chief operating and financial officer, and Joseph Boitano, the retailer’s executive vice president and chief merchandising and design officer will serve as co-CEO, as the company launches a search for a permanent replacement.

USA Today’s Charisse Jones added

But perhaps what concerned the retailer’s board of directors was Marchionni’s inability to assemble a strategy that rallied sales. Last fiscal year, the company’s sales declined 8.7%.

Would it be too much of a stretch to say the massive self-inflicted wound helps to explain that drop?

Two quick additional points. One, when Los Angeles Times reporter Michael Hiltzik summarized the story, we were supposed to believe that Marchionni was naïve–that she “stumble[d] into a political minefield.”

In Hiltzik’s view, “Steinem has become something of a lightning rod for anti-abortion activism,” as if this is some sort of revelation or recent development that Marchionni could not possibly have known.

Please.

Second, there’s something else that is so hard to miss that by the end of his column, even Hiltzik seems to dimly get it:

Aligning itself with a women’s icon like Gloria Steinem seemed an innocent way to give itself some style, though critics might cavil that Steinem, despite her record, may not strike a chord with youthful customers today. The fact that the company is reeling from an onslaught that seemed to erupt out of nowhere suggests that marketing today is a lot more complicated than placing svelte models in stylish clothes before the public.

Just to be clear, Steinem isn’t, and never has been, an “icon” to an awful lot of women.

But the larger point is that rolling out retreads and golden oldies–see Hillary Clinton–speaks volumes about how very little the 60s/70s generation of pro-abortion feminists have in common with their much younger sisters. The latter, for example, have little patience with the Clinton camp’s have-it-both-ways determination to portray her as a victim of “tone-deaf sexism.”

With obvious adjustments, what was said of Clinton by one young feminist could be said of Steinem and that whole cohort: “She’s your mother’s candidate.”