Castanea Partners has invested in Ippolita, a jewelry firm known for its hand-wrought 18-karat gold, diamond and gemstone pieces with an artisanal vibe.
The size of the investment by the private equity firm was not disclosed. The eight-year-old New York-based brand's founder and creative director, Ippolita (she goes by one name), and chief executive officer Lauren Sharfman will continue in their current roles. Castanea is aiming to double retail sales within three to five years.
"We're interested in growing luxury brands with potential in any case," said Brian Knez, co-managing partner of Castanea, a six-year-old Newton, Mass.-based firm that acquired a majority stake in Betsey Johnson in August. Financial terms were not revealed. "We're particularly interested in Ippolita. We think designer fine jewelry is one with significant potential and with growing importance not only to Neiman's and Saks, but to their customers as well. We've been following the category and looking at it generally."
In April, Ippolita told WWD that its retail sales were $40 million in 2006, with accounts in 80 U.S. doors, including Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman, as well as a select group of specialty boutiques. The company also said that sales increased by 77 percent and 75 percent in 2005 and 2006, respectively. Internationally, the brand is sold at Harrods in the U.K., Holt Renfrew in Canada and in select specialty boutiques. Ippolita also has an e-commerce business through its Web site, ippolita.com.
Castanea plans to help Ippolita build systems and operations and to open two U.S. flagships. In April, the firm said it would open a store on Madison Avenue in Manhattan, but the lease fell through.
Women purchasing for themselves drive most of Ippolita sales. Prices for jewelry range from $290 to $25,000, with the core business at $495 to $6,000 at retail. A sculptor and former dancer, Ippolita also creates objet d'art, tabletop and sculpture that will all be available at the stores.
"This is allowing us to primarily build the infrastructure that we need to support the tremendous growth we've been experiencing," Sharfman said. "What we're really looking to do is have a focused brand-building opportunity with a strategic partner. Castanea Partners is the right partner for us. It gives us access to the capital when we need it."Six months ago, the company decided to end its private label costume jewelry business. Sharfman said the decision was made before Castanea was in the picture.
"It's all about focus and editing focus when you have a designer like Ippolita," she said.
Ippolita said, "I feel like now there will be ample opportunity within the creative side."
The company plans to launch a sterling silver collection in the spring. The focus of the strategy will be fine jewelry primarily. Home and tabletop categories may become important in coming years, Knez said.
"Their potential in the fine jewelry category is significant," Knez said. "Ippolita and Lauren have done a great job of what we think is a very exciting brand in this particular category. Our objective is that as they continue to grow, that they build out the appropriate infrastructure."
Breaking News: @louisvuitton's men's artistic director @mrkimjones is leaving the French fashion house after nearly 7 years. Jones joined Louis Vuitton in 2011, following a three year tenure as creative director of British luxury goods brand Alfred Dunhill. Jones is to exit Louis Vuitton after showing his fall 2018 collection for the brand in Paris on Thursday. Read the full exclusive story on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
For men’s fall 2018, @giuseppezanotti drew on elements from streetwear, sport, biker, combat and rock ‘n’ roll. Pictured here are a pair of shoes from the collection, featuring zippers, rhinestones, and silver hardware. Head to WWD.com to see a roundup of the accessories from Milan’s men’s fall 2018 shows. #wwdfashion (📷: Andrea Delb)
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of @ralphlauren’s snowboarding collection, the brand is mining its archives. The iconic brand is reintroducing vintage styles and dropping new designs for a color capsule that will be available in Ralph Lauren stores and @openingceremony on January 25. The capsule will consist of 10 pieces, including the Snow Beach Pullover, pictured here, which is a collector’s item that rapper Raekwon wore in Wu-Tang Clan’s “Can It Be All So Simple” video. #wwdfashion (📷: Tom Gould)
For @rochasofficial’s pre-fall 2018 collection, creative director Alessandro Dell’Acqua channeled the sophisticated and intriguing Catherine Denevue in the film “Belle de Jour.” Polished collarless coats, midi skirts, suits and ’60s graphic motifs were all featured in the collection, adding a sense of discreet luxury. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion
“We tried to produce clothing of that couture quality, but the most daunting part was that we only had a matter of days [to do it],” said costume designer Lou Eyrich, who recreated Gianni Versace’s iconic looks for @americancrimestoryfx. Eyrich searched online retailers and vintage shops for original pieces from the design house and for @penelopecruzoficial, who plays Donatella Versace. Head to WWD.com to read how she created the Versace world. #wwdfashion
Only three months after her stellar debut catwalk season, @kaiagerber has inked her first big design collaboration –– with @karllagerfeld. The collection blends Lagerfeld’s Parisian chic aesthetic and the model’s signature West Coast casual style via RTW, accessories, footwear and more. The #KarlLagerfeldxKaia collection will launch in September with a series of events. Get all the details on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
Harrods plans to remove the famous statue of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed from the bottom of the Egyptian escalators and hand it back to Mohamed Al-Fayed. “We are very proud to have played our role in celebrating the lives of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed at Harrods and to have welcomed people from around the world to visit the memorial for the past 20 years,” said Michael Ward, Harrods managing director. “With the announcement of the new official memorial statue to Diana, Princess of Wales at Kensington Palace, we feel that the time is right to return this memorial to Mr. Al Fayed and for the public to be invited to pay their respects at the palace.” More on the news, with reporting by @loreleimarfil, at WWD.com. #wwdnews