Bloomfield Hills resident Jane Kushner, Helmut Lang vice president of sales and merchandising, shares how she got started in the fashion industry, her favorite looks for spring and where you can spot her shopping around town.
By Rachel Schostak
Photography by Viviana Pernot
1. Tell us about your professional background: After graduating from the University of Michigan in 2004, I moved to New York City and began my career in the women’s sales department at Theory. When Fast Retailing (the parent company of Theory) acquired Helmut Lang from Prada at the end of 2006, I moved over to work on the brand’s relaunch. I’ve been with Helmut ever since, now running sales and merchandising for both our men’s and women’s divisions. In June of 2016, I moved back to the Detroit area with my husband Matthew, our two kids Max and Stevie, and our dog Sophie.
2. How did you get started in the fashion industry? When I graduated from college a close friend of mine, Shira Lauter Wolberg (a native Detroiter with an amazing closet!), was working as a divisional merchandise manager in the Bergdorf Goodman buying office. She sent my resume to her sales representative at Theory. I was hired, and 15 years later, I’m still here!
3. What are some career highlights? I would have to that say that the relaunch of the Helmut Lang brand has been my biggest career accomplishment to date. From working with the best talent in the industry to being part of buzz-worthy creative collabs and ultimately growing the overall business to $175 million, the entire process has been extremely rewarding.
4. How long have you worked at Helmut Lang, and what do you love most about your job? I started at Helmut Lang at the end of 2006 when the company relaunched as an American brand. So, just over 12 years. The best part about my job and what I love most are the people. I am lucky to work with some of the most talented and creative minds. My boss Andrew Rosen — founder and CEO of Theory, and CEO of Helmut Lang — has been a huge influence on me both professionally and personally. He is one of the most inspiring people I have ever met and has been an invaluable mentor. My team is amazing. They too inspire me daily and make coming to work exciting and worthwhile. I am also extremely passionate about the products we sell, which is the icing on the cake.
5. What pieces from the current collections are you loving? Right now, I’d have to say some of my favorite spring pieces are our leather blazer, the white linen suit and the cotton military sweaters. Of course, I am into all of the jeans, especially the new Spike fit. We also have some cool logo hoodies and tees in the pipeline that for sure will be a big hit.
6. The company is based in NYC, and you are based here. How do you make that work? When I first moved back to Detroit I was commuting to NYC weekly, spending two days in the office and working from home the rest of the week. I have a home office setup where I can video conference and stay connected. Now that I am traveling less I rely on my team to act on my behalf and keep me up to date. Let’s just say I am on the phone all day long!
7. Who inspires you in the business world? Yael Aflalo, founder of Reformation, is an e-commerce genius. Sara Blakely, who founded Spanx, is an all-around inspiration to me as a mother, business leader and entrepreneur. Andrew Rosen, my boss, who has been deemed the “Godfather of Contemporary Fashion.” And, of course, Oprah.
Your Local Love List…
8. What do you love most about our community? I was born in South Florida. However, my parents are both native Detroiters and we moved back to the area when I was in elementary school. I love the sense of pride that the people of our city carry with them wherever they go. There is a deep rooted connection that we have for our city and its people. Detroiters unify and stick together. I have always been proud to say that I’m from Detroit and knew that I would end up back here, raising a family.
9. Your current go-to spots for brunch, lunch and dinner? Mabel Gray, Phoenecia, Sharaku, Trizest and El Asador are my go-to dinner spots hands down. Commonwealth and the Dime Store downtown are excellent for brunch. Tomatoes APizza and Jersey Bagel do a fantastic job at quenching our New York cravings and, of course, I need my Hunter House fix once or twice a month.
10. Where do you enjoy shopping locally? For obvious reasons the majority of my closet is Helmut Lang. Otherwise, I have to admit I do most of my shopping online at Net-a-Porter, Ssense, Matches Fashion, Zara and Reformation. Locally, you can find me buying kids birthday presents at Perfect Trading Co., Toyology Toys and Books-A-Million. I go to Tappers for all things jewelry, and I recently discovered that Mills Pharmacy carries amazing home goods and beauty products. However, my guilty pleasure and suburban addiction is Target!
Now on to style…
11. Head-to-toe outfit details of what you’re wearing for the shoot? Helmut head to toe. Menswear-inspired oversize wool blazer, fine gauge frayed cashmere crewneck sweater, charcoal washed skinny jeans and studded slides.
12. Three words to describe your style? Comfortable, colorless and consistent.
13. One item you can’t leave home without? My Yeti.
14. You’re never fully dressed without _____? A signature piece of jewelry.
15. Your must-have item for your spring 2019 wardrobe? Helmut Lang Femme Jean Jacket.
16. Your most cherished item in your closet? My dog Sophie practically lives in my closet. Her go-to spots are under my sweaters or next to the mini fridge.
17. Do you have a style icon? Bianca Jagger and her menswear-inspired glam, Edie Sedgwick, ‘60s mod factory “It Girl,” Cher and her signature jewels and mini dresses, and currently Michelle Obama in those Balenciaga boots!
18. What inspires your style? The ‘60s and the ‘90s.
20. Favorite quote or words to live by? My dad’s motto: “No complaints.”