Alexandra Ford English, the great-great-granddaughter of the founder of Ford Motor Co., has been tapped to lead an effort to expand the family brand once harnessed by Versace to sell $1,135 hoodies, the automaker announced Monday.
The newly created role of global brand merchandising director puts English, 33, in a position to use business skills developed prior to her arrival at Ford in 2017. She managed profit and loss operations in the merchandising divisions at Tory Burch in New York and Gap Inc. in San Francisco.
“She will drive a growth strategy that leverages Ford’s storied brand, iconic vehicles, and motorsports success to create an expanded collection of lifestyle merchandise,” Ford said in a news release. “Demand for Ford merchandise has only increased in recent years with the introduction of popular new vehicles like the Bronco, Mustang Mach-E and the F-150 Lightning.”
In 2019, Ford made headlines when the Ford Blue Oval adorned a Versace men’s line.
English said she wants to create new ways for consumers to connect with the brand.
“Anywhere you go around the world, you find passionate Ford fans and we want to offer them an inspiring collection of merchandise and accessories, and potentially even digital products,” English said in a statement.
Suzy Deering, global chief marketing officer, said Ford is a brand built on consumer passion. “We’re expanding that pride to all aspects of a customers’ life; we’re becoming a lifestyle brand.”
The luxurious Versace Fashion House reached out three years ago to Ford for a one-year licensing deal and introduced a men’s clothing line splashed with classic Ford logos during the 2019 Fall-Winter collection at Milan Fashion Week in Italy.
The Versace Man collection “reflects on the modern concept of man, an idea of masculinity that pushes the boundaries and breaks the rules of menswear by challenging notions and stereotypes,” the clothing company said in a news release at the time.
“Only a confident man is able to see beyond the status quo and challenge it. This newly found attitude gives him the freedom and security to ignore conventional norms around beauty, and even more so, around masculinity.”
People loved blue-collar chic at the time.
While the official Ford merchandise store online offered a Ford hoodie for $40, Versace hoodies at Neiman Marcus ranged in price from $332 to $1,135.
For the new collection, Versace designs include Ford’s famous logo on sweatshirts, shirts, sneakers and pants.
Now English has the opportunity to harness those dollars for the company.
English was elected to the Ford board of directors in May, becoming the first female family member to serve on the board. Within the company, she has been a director in corporate strategy for Ford since March 2020, responsible for enterprise, connectivity and digital network strategy, the automaker said in its release.
She is the daughter of Bill Ford, executive chair of the company.
English began at Ford as director of markets and operations for Ford’s Autonomous Vehicle LLC, where she oversaw the deployment and operation of Ford’s autonomous vehicle business in Miami; Austin, Texas, and Washington, D.C.
English earned a bachelor’s degree in human biology with a concentration in the neurobiology and physiology of human behavior from Stanford University. She also has a master’s in business administration from Harvard Business School.