NEW YORK — Aronsson Group LLC is looking to fitness in its third deal.
After taking stakes in Matthew Williamson and Ginny H., the New York-based firm has formed a partnership with Casall AB, a Swedish activewear company.
Casall, which is distributed in 18 countries, is known for its high-quality and fashionable fitness, running, golf, tennis, yoga and leisure apparel with a Scandinavian sensibility.
“The product stood for something in the sense of consistency,” said Jeffry Aronsson, who cofounded Aronsson Group with Shauna Mei in 2006. “It was a proposition of quality, fashion and functionality, which is exactly what we were looking for.”
After Carl-Axel Surtevall founded the fitness equipment company in 1980, he expanded with fitness centers for women in 1982, followed by high-quality active apparel in 1984. The brand’s philosophy centers around wellness, and has a strong following throughout Scandinavia.
Aronsson didn’t disclose the size of the stake, or the volume of the brand, but said, “We look at this as a huge opportunity, not just for Casall, but also for Aronsson Group.”
Aronsson said the idea of investing in a wellness concept came to him through Mei, who works out avidly and saw a need for functional premium activewear in the market. The partners read about the brand and tracked down product. Impressed by its quality and style, they started cold-calling the company a year and a half ago. After several meetings, they signed a deal in September. It will be officially announced today in Stockholm, where Mei has been living to help put together a strategy for global growth.
The plan is to launch in the U.S. market in spring 2010, with select wholesale accounts that share the brand values. Aronsson Group also will support the company’s push into Asia and the Middle East.
“Because it’s a great business, it needs to be positioned to do more business, as opposed to being a business that needs to be fixed,” Aronsson said.
Among some of the initiatives, Aronsson and Mei created a brand book that crystallizes the DNA.
“We gave them a vocabulary and a lens through which to focus product development, selling, design and every other aspect of the company and company culture,” he said.
Aronsson Group is also working to improve Casall’s systems and processes to maximize opportunities.
“We are completely revamping the Web site and plan to introduce e-commerce in 2009, and are also putting together a model to introduce freestanding retail, starting with the U.S.,” Aronsson said. “As we see that it is gaining traction, we will then introduce it to other parts of the world.”
The brand had select distribution in the U.S., but Aronsson said it has been halted to allow for a clean relaunch in spring 2010.
The current economic crisis wasn’t a concern with this transaction, he said.
“Part of Casall’s DNA is about looking your best, performing your best and feeling your best, and we feel there will always be a market and appetite for that,” Aronsson said.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast