Proenza Schouler's taken the plunge.After months of wrangling, the hot design company brought on private equity firm Castanea Partners as a minority investor, and made an executive switch in the process.Shirley Cook, who's been chief executive officer since Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez founded the company in 2002, is stepping down as part of the transaction and will be replaced on an interim basis by former Saks Fifth Avenue president Ron Frasch, an operating partner at the private equity firm at Castanea.The deal confirms a May 11 report in WWD that the two parties were in talks.Proenza Schouler said Cook "played a pivotal role in the development of the brand and recently spearheaded the investment by Castanea Partners and a licensing deal with L’Oréal to launch the brand’s first fragrance."The deal marks a key turning point for both sides. Proenza, which is said to have revenues approaching $85 million, takes a big step toward growing into its powerhouse potential with new management and a new partner. This is also Frasch's first big move as a private equity player. The former chief merchant at Saks joined Castanea in early 2014 and has been beating the bushes for a brand that's proven itself, but still has potential to grow.Frasch and Castanea's managing partner Brian Knez will take seats on Proenza Schouler’s board, joining former Burberry Group ceo Rose Marie Bravo, Irving Place Capital ceo John Howard and Theory Inc. ceo Andrew Rosen.In 2011, Howard and Rosen led a group of investors that bought a 50 percent stake in Proenza Schouler from Valentino Fashion Group and others.RELATED CONTENT: Proenza Schouler Resort 2016 >>LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton had also been looking to invest in the New York-based fashion house.Terms of Monday's deal were not disclosed, but Castanea did note that it was "joining existing investors." That means the company is getting additional funds to expand operations while current investors are accepting some amount of dilution to their stakes.McCollough and Hernandez, who serve as the company's creative directors, described Castanea's arrival on the scene as a "new chapter.""They have a deep understanding of the business and a great respect for our creative vision," they said. "Together, we are committed to realizing our dream and to developing the Proenza Schouler brand globally."The designers, who quickly became fashion darlings and have taken home five Council of Fashion Designers of America awards for their women's wear and accessories designs, have built a business with more than 250 points of sale in more than 20 countries and 10 freestanding stores.Frasch said Castanea would work to support the company's continued growth.“Jack and Lazaro, together with Shirley, have created a leading luxury brand with an award-winning aesthetic and a compelling mix of categories, channels and geographies," he said.Castanea's Kenz added that the company has "tremendous potential to build on its distinct brand DNA and immense creative talent."That "immense creative talent" has translated into immense brand potential, which has had investors across the spectrum kicking the tires.In April, WWD named Proenza Schoulder one of its six powerhouse brands of tomorrow.Asked then whether building volume up to $1 billion was a goal for the brand, Hernandez said, “Our partners and investors want us to keep growing and growing and growing. It’s the way people run businesses today. You don’t plateau — ever.”He added, “The irony of growing is that it takes more money to do so. We’re looking to raise capital. Hopefully by this year, there will be something happening, and we’ll definitely use that to take it to the next level.”The designers claimed they did not fear a minority ownership situation, but said it was key to keep creative control and know their investors. “I think most of [our investors] realized that if they let us do what we do, they’re going to have a return,” Hernandez said. “The wrong thing for them to do would be to clip our wings. We haven’t let anyone down yet.”More growth and the potential for a broader appeal is certainly in the future.This month, the brand inked a fragrance deal with L’Oréal. There's no date yet for when its first women's scent will be introduced, but the shift to the beauty counter will open up the brand to a new customer."What makes us sometimes sad about what we do right now is that it’s not available to so many people," McCollough told WWD. "It’s still a niche kind of customer. We’ve done better with the bags because it’s a better price point in a way and something with more function that can be used every day. So I think a fragrance is a product that is even more democratic. It would be nice to reach a broader audience."Next up?"We’re talking about the idea of possibly men’s down the line as a next step," McCollough said. "We don’t want to be limited to just being a women’s brand, but you know — one step at a time. We’ve always been very organic; we do things as they happen. If the opportunity presents itself, then we’ll take it. If it doesn’t, we won’t. There’s no rush."As companies grow and professional investor houses come in looking for a return on a hot brand, pressure to expand can start to rise.But for McCollough and Hernandez, who sold their senior collection from The New School's Parsons School of Design to Barneys New York and managed to grow during the dog days of 2009 by introducing their PS1 bag, pressure is nothing new.
EXCLUSIVE: Two and half months after John Targon, cofounder and codesigner of Baja East, was hired as creative director of the contemporary division at Marc Jacobs, he has left the company, WWD has learned. Marc Jacobs International, which is owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, confirmed Targon’s departure in a statement: “John Targon is a talented designer and we appreciate the work he has done here. Ultimately working together did not make sense for the brand and we wish him the best.” Read the story by @jessiredale, link in bio. #wwdnews
@theluxurycollection is officially launching a collection, tapping Sofia Sanchez de Betak for the capsule. Over 30 styles will be featured in the Chufy x The Luxury Collection, debuting next month at Bergdorf Goodman, The Webster, FiveStory and more. De Betak, known as “@chufy,” drew inspiration for the collection from her trips to Japan in the past year #wwdfashion
@lhd, founder and CEO of @thewebster, has teamed up with @lebonmarcherivegauche for the European launch of her ready-to-wear line, LHD. The launch will come with an exclusive pop-up opening today that’s set to run through May 20. Located on the second floor, it carries her debut Miami-themed resort collection, launched in November as see-now-buy-now. #wwdfashion
@longchamp, which marks its 70th anniversary this year, just opened its biggest U.S. store on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. On the lower level there’s a floor-to-ceiling display of the brand’s iconic Le Pliage bag – in all of its different colors, shapes and sizes. Customers can also have their product personalized in-store by imprinting names, initials or emblems. #wwdfashion (📷: @ericmtownsend)
“Whenever I’m in that place of sound and music, I don’t have fear or nervousness…This album has a lot of themes of courage and boldness and I want to be the soundtrack for people’s lives. I’ll be so happy if [my songs] evoke strength in people, which I know music has done for me,” says @kimbramusic of her newest album “Primal Heart.” The New Zealand-born singer sat down with WWD to talk about her music, newest tour and connecting with hear fans — read more on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
Luxury handbag resale company @rebagofficial is planning to sell a rare collectible for $70,000: the @hermes White Crocodile Himalayan Birkin. The exclusive Birkin sold for about $100,000 in 2008, when @davidbeckham bought one for his wife @victoriabeckham to add to her collection. Read more about the rare Birkin on WWD.com #wwdaccessories
With her costume pearl necklace and what-you-see-is-what-you-get style, Barbara Bush, who died Tuesday at age 92, was a straight-shooter from start to finish.
Born Barbara Pierce in New York City, Bush served as the 37th first lady, as well as the country’s second lady from 1981 to 1989. In addition to being part of the longest presidential marriage — 73 years — Bush also had the unlikely distinction of having one son, George W., become the 43rd president and another son, Jeb, run unsuccessfully in 2016. Having served as second lady during the Reagan administration’s two terms and lived all over the world during her own husband’s ascending political career, Barbara Bush made it clear that literacy — not fashion — was her priority. Read more from Rosemary Feitelberg’s obituary on the late First Lady in WWD.com, link in bio. #barbarabush #wwdnews
Western and ’90s trends have influenced denim for fall 2018. Think raw, dark and coated jeans mixed with bold prints and tough leather. #trendtuesdays #wwdfashion (Styled by @thealexbadia;📷: @ryanplett)