NEW YORK — Compagnie Financiere Richemont has added another gem to its crown.
The Zug, Switzerland-based luxury goods conglomerate confirmed on Friday that it took a stake in New York-based jewelry designer Mimi So.
“Richemont believes Mimi brings a unique design perspective to the luxury industry,” said Ed McQuigg, group vice president of marketing for Richemont. “We are confident her philosophy and unparalleled talent will translate into significant brand expansion both domestically and internationally for Mimi So.”
While Richemont and So both declined to disclose the size of the investment, So said Richemont took a minority stake in her company.
“This is a partnership and I am the majority owner,” she said. “To me, it’s like a marriage. We want to build and develop this [company] to become a global international brand.”
For Richemont, which counts Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Piaget, Jaeger LeCoultre and IWC in its brand portfolio, So offers another entry into the music and Hollywood scene. Since launching her company in 1993, So’s baubles have become a red carpet favorite, and her pieces often adorn such celebrities as Jennifer Lopez, Beyoncé Knowles and Lil’ Kim. So also designed David Bowie and Iman’s wedding bands.
Her jewelry designs are often suitably bold, and collections include Anzia, which features E- and F-color diamonds in a floral motif for rings, necklaces, bracelets and earrings, and Sesi, with a seven-armed starfish set with pavé diamonds, which spins and converts itself into a brooch or can be clipped onto beaded necklaces. Prices start from $1,500 for a diamond platinum pendant or starfish stud to about $200,000 for a diamond necklace or bracelet, although custom-made pieces can go for up to $1 million.
“Mimi So is timeless, feminine, modern and most importantly, adheres to the quality that is consistent with other Richemont brands,” McQuigg said.
So has a store at 580 Fifth Avenue here, but she also sells her jewelry through 15 Neiman Marcus doors nationwide, Stanley Korshak in Dallas and, starting next month, at Bergdorf Goodman. So, who declined to disclose her company’s volume, plans to open a second store in Tokyo in the fall.The move is somewhat comparable to Tiffany & Co.’s strategy of finding and supporting young designers. As reported, Tiffany took a stake in Temple St. Clair last year as a way to diversify its retail operations.
“We are confident with the backing of Richemont, Mimi So will grow at both retail and wholesale,” McQuigg said. “Richemont’s goal is to carefully develop the Mimi So brand in a controlled pace to guarantee long-term vitality. Therefore, we are not placing any immediate sales or profit targets, as this is a brand-building exercise.”
For her part, So is ready to take her company to the next level.
“A few years ago, a different company had approached me to make that move and I turned it down because I felt I wasn’t prepared,” she said. “Now, we are so ready.”
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