By  on January 21, 2014

Paula Thomas of Thomas Wylde has hired Elsa Berry’s Vendôme Global Partners to find a strategic partner and investor who can help propel growth at the high-end, rock ’n’ roll-infused brand.

Thomas, who developed her sensibilities as a model in the Eighties London fashion scene — described as a “crazy, brilliant time” — is now well-versed in the business side of the industry. She’s also known in Hollywood and director Ridley Scott turned to her to dress Cameron Diaz in “The Counselor” last year.

Thomas Wylde’s sales weigh in at less than $10 million annually, but the eight-year-old brand has developed a global customer base to build on. Russia and Japan each account for just more than 20 percent of sales, while less than 15 percent of sales come from the U.S.

The designer is touting a certain maturity as she looks for a partner and is staying off what she described as “the trend treadmill” that pushes brands to become overdistributed.

“The hardest part is to maintain this specialness,” she said. “You want to distribute more because you need to grow, but you need to do it in a very controlled environment so you do have 30 or 40 years [of growth]. My biggest thing is consistency — and then the next chapter of my life and the brand’s life is to find a partner who knows how to license the business well.”

Berry, an investment banking veteran who started Vendôme in 2012 to connect brands with buyers, said the idea is not just for the business to raise cash, but to team with a like-minded investor to help expand what is still a very pure brand.

Berry said of Thomas, “She’s special because she has a very edgy, distinctive brand DNA that’s very coherent, mixing both rebel aspects, but also a sophisticated elegance that has connected [with shoppers] around the world. It’s not been licensed out. It’s not deviated from its core.”

Thomas Wylde’s five-year plan includes a move into retail — the brand’s first store will open in Los Angeles next month — as well as e-commerce, denim, a diffusion line and then licenses for fragrance, eyewear and footwear.

A key part of the brand is its skull motif, which pops up regularly in the designs, appearing as a small detail on a bag or as part of a larger pattern.

“I think we’ve gone through a phase of minimalism and now I think we’ve gone back to a place where people want recognition,” Thomas said. “A logo’s very important. A lot of designers, I felt, in the last two or three seasons were going away from that.”

Thomas Wylde’s prices reach up to $2,500 for ready-to-wear and bags and orders are drop shipped from factories in South Korea. The brand has about 120 points of sale and is working on setting up shop in shops in the Russian chain Tsum.

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