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Les’ Misérables

Les Wexner
Some are insistent that Wexner had told Mehas that Victoria’s Secret wasn’t fixable, and it would be easier to start a new brand. Photo: Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Fragrance Foundation
Lauren Sherman
March 21, 2024

Earlier this month, John Mehas was fired from his job as C.E.O. of Vineyard Vines, the privately held, Connecticut-headquartered maker of safety school frat scene canvas club belts and madras plaid cotton button-ups. Inauspiciously, perhaps, Mehas had also been fired from his previous executive gig, at Victoria’s Secret, where he briefly served as C.E.O. before making an inappropriate remark over Zoom. Nevertheless, Mehas, a well-known retail executive, was brought into Vineyard Vines in October 2022 by his old colleague, Roger Farah, an advisor to Vineyard Vines co-founders Shep and Ian Murray

I heard mixed things about how it was going with Mehas at Vineyard Vines, which the Murrays founded in 1998 after, according to company hagiography, they ditched their corporate jobs with a dream of making clothes for people who “like to go to beach bars and have fun.” More than a quarter-century later, the company is a legit challenger to Brooks Brothers and all the J.s (Crew, Press, and McLaughlin), and a veritable member of the Preppy Handbook establishment. As some of those companies have endured bankruptcies and ownership tumult, Vineyard Vines’ sales have inched up incrementally in the past decade. (In 2016, reported revenue was $476 million. In 2023, according to people with access to the company’s financials, sales were in the range of $550 million. Mehas, a good merchant by all accounts—and a prickly personality by many, too—was likely tasked with modernizing the offering without killing the spirit.