Press Release | 6.11.18

The Lead Announces The Defiant 25

The annual list features leading fashion and retail executives who have embraced innovation and technology to drive business and move their companies forward.

{NEW YORK, NY, June 11, 2018} The Lead’s Defiant 25 list recognizes the leaders, risk takers and visionaries leveraging innovative technology to transform their businesses within the fashion industry (apparel, footwear, accessories and beauty). The Defiant 25 executives intimately understand the changes occurring in the industry, have marshaled the resources to address them and are rapidly adopting technologies to stay ahead of the innovation curve.

Honorees were vetted and selected using a rigorous methodology. After reviewing the nominations, The Lead’s Head of Research, Awais Khan, led research and analysis into each nominee. The process included a detailed look at the company, historical numbers, growth, market performance and future projections. The research offered insight into why some brands made it —and why others failed — how much technology adoption had to do with the success stories and if digital adoption was one of the major reasons for the companies’ survival and growth.

2018’s Defiant 25 are Yael Aflalo (Reformation), Angela Ahrendts (Apple), Christopher Bailey (formerly Burberry), Christine Beauchamp (Amazon), Gregory Boutte (Kering / Gucci), Adam Brotman (J. Crew), Mary Dillon (Ulta Beauty), Wilfried Guerrand (Hermes), Katrina Lake (Stitch Fix), David Lauren (Ralph Lauren), Marc Lore (Walmart E-commerce), Marc Mastronardi (Macy’s), Greg McKelvey (Fossil Group), Michael McNamara (Target), Uri Minkoff (Rebecca Minkoff), Lucinda Newcomb (Sephora), Tricia Nichols (Estee Lauder), Pete Nordstrom (Nordstrom), Stephen O’lander (Nike), Noam Paransky (Gap Inc.), Stephanie Phair (Farfetch), Lubomira Rochet (L’oreal), Ian Rogers (LVMH), Marc Rosen (Levi’s Strauss & Co.) and Wen Zhou (3.1 Phillip Lim). Through the selection process, The Lead’s analysts also discovered the following Executives to Watch — Guido Campello (Cosabella), Stephanie Horton (Alexander Wang), Cassandra Jones (Macy’s) and Michelle Levy (Melissa Shoes).

Whether they are working to speed up sales cycles or to build dialog with their vendors, these leaders have an intimate feel for the sweet spot in the fashion, retail and technology markets, where innovation is shifting behavior and creating new business opportunities. They are a group of people that are not running to the ball but to where the ball is going.

“The Lead manages to bring together a perfect mix of companies and executives.  What makes them so special is how they recognize who in the industry is doing something significant and groundbreaking. Big guys learning from small and vice versa” said Steven Alan, Founder & CEO of Steven Alan.

The Defiant 25 will be honored at The Lead Assembly on June 21st at Cadillac House in New York City. This executive forum will bring together leaders from the fashion and retail industry, digital native and start-up founders and executives, leading venture capitalists, and technology titans. This year’s speakers and moderators include Marc Mastronardi (Macy’s), Daniella Yacobovsky (BaubleBar), Mariah Chase (ELOQUII), Aaron Sanandres (UNTUCKit), and executives from Store No. 8 / Walmart, Glossier, NBCUniversal, Facebook, Google, CFDA, eBay Fashion, IBM Watson Commerce, Zenni Optical and more. The goal of the event  — to bridge fashion brands and retailers with the global Silicon Valley.

The Lead’s next annual list, The Foremost 50, will feature the breakout Digital Native brands that are reinventing and redefining the future of retail and fashion. Nominations can be submitted at

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The Lead bridges the fashion and retail industry with the global Silicon Valley, empowering the fashion business’ transition to digital centricity. In partnership with industry leaders, The Lead conducts research, produces a quarterly publication and holds a series of events centered on emerging technology, and its adoption, across the fashion-retail-commerce value chain. Analysts including Awais Khan (Leader in the Venture Capital Practice at KPMG and former chair of AlwaysOn Private Company Selection Committee) track the emerging technology companies innovating at the intersection of these two industries. The Lead produces three lists of innovation leaders that the fashion brand and retail community must know: The Leading 100 (B2B Start-Ups across the value chain), The Foremost 50 (Digital Native Start-Ups), and The Defiant 25 (Executives taking chances and pushing their businesses forward.) Digital transformation in the fashion-retail-commerce space is a macro trend gaining in velocity. Our work is to reveal what is coming next, and to help our community get ahead of it.