The fashion division of Beverly Hills-based media firm Relativity has appointed Mark Weber as a strategic adviser. The new role will be separate from Weber’s positions as chief executive officer of LVMH Inc./USA and chairman and ceo of Donna Karan International, which he will maintain. In signing on with M3, Weber is joining the likes of Kimberly Ovitz, the former fashion designer who is now full-time with the company.
Relativity is a media firm involved in multiple aspects of entertainment, including film production, television, music publishing and digital media. As an adviser, Weber will be working with the company to assist across all areas of the business, with an emphasis on pursuing investment opportunities and new business development around fashion talent.
“I’ve always been deeply fascinated by the entertainment industry, and especially interested in how the potential intersection might work between fashion and media. M3/Relativity are one-of-a-kind, given their approach of leveraging Relativity Media’s multibillion-dollar entertainment platform against the fashion industry,” Weber said. “The fashion business is going through massive change, and will continue to change at a more rapid rate than it ever had before. Vision and execution will be at the forefront. As for me, I don’t like talking about myself. Benjamin Franklin said, ‘Well done is better than well said.’ I like working with people who make me struggle to be value-added. I am sure I will find a way.”
M3, which will celebrate its first birthday on Sept. 11, was formed by three former Creative Artists Agency and Ford Models executives: Mitch Grossbach, Matthew Hunt and Martin Dolfi.
Grossbach, who was the founder and head of CAA’s fashion department, heads up M3 as president. He described the business model as a unique three-pronged platform that relies on the team’s expertise in fashion to assist clients across fashion, beauty, style and creative design, while also leveraging the resources and intellectual property and capabilities of Relativity’s entertainment business.
The first prong is the consulting business, which works on developing opportunities for fashion clients. “We consulted with Shutterfly on who they should be in business with in the fashion space,” Grossbach said of the Internet-based image publishing service.
The second component is the entertainment arm of Relativity, specifically Relativity Television. This piece of the puzzle allows M3 to funnel talent and ideas on the fashion side, and then partner with Relativity to sell the package to the networks. One example is the deal it did with Refinery29 to create custom content for television networks, with an eye toward a deeper connection with Millennials.
Most unusual is the third leg of M3’s model: capital investments.
The investment side is what has brought in names such as Ovitz, who joined the M3 team full-time in May, and Weber.
“The [model is a] triangulation of skills, platforms and dollars. It’s on that last point that is why we’re expanding the team. We really need to have complete expertise in all areas of the business,” Grossbach said.
As for Weber’s advisory role, Grossbach said his “incredible knowledge, decades of working experience running big fashion companies, a vast Rolodex of relationships from retail to sourcing and manufacturing and production, to other areas, can really help us.”
M3 has already raised a seed round, and is raising its next round. It’s already in the process of evaluating and assessing candidates for inclusion in its investment portfolio — that’s where Ovitz is lending her skills from her experience as an operator and designer.
The designer said she joined the firm because it offers a unique opportunity, and because of her attraction to the culture of the company. “The guys are creative and entrepreneurial in nature. This is a place that is very collaborative, and it really encourages you to put your creative and business experiences to the table.”
According to Ovitz, the plan is to have investments in 10 to 12 fashion firms under the M3 umbrella, in which it would operate as an accelerator to help build the young, growing brands.
As for what types of companies might be attractive to M3, Ovitz said, “It’s really about what companies and brands make sense for our unique platform, which no one else has. Obviously it’s all about execution and the team that is running the company. At the end of the day, does it make sense for our specific platform and can we help grow the brand with what we bring to the table?”
While the objective is to grow a diverse portfolio ranging from beauty to fashion, to lifestyle and fashion technology, there’s also no rule that says M3 can’t invest in two beauty brands or two fashion brands.
As for her personal interests and what she sees intriguing for the fashion industry, she said: “I definitely feel strongly about fashion tech. I personally think the trend and sweet spot is direct-to-consumer and cutting out the middle man. Wholesale is struggling and I really think the single-product category and direct-to-consumer are what is going to lead the way.”
Also on the M3 fashion team is Christopher Bevans, former creative director for Billionaire Boys Club, Head, Nike and Adidas. He is an MIT Media Lab Fellow, working under the Lab’s leader Joi Ito on areas such as wearable technology.
All three of M3’s founders — Grossbach, Hunt and Dolfi — have experience in deal development in television, digital, licensing, sponsorships and brand marketing partnerships.
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