NEW YORK — HMX Group is fielding interest from potential buyers — and Iconix Brand Group Inc. is among the strongest suitors.
This isn’t the first time Iconix has shown interest in the financially troubled men’s wear company, according to market sources. But its interest is said to have “intensified” in recent weeks, with the firm now seeking partners it can work with to complete a deal. Iconix is a brand-management company and would need a partner or partners to manage the operations of HMX.
Sources said that in any Iconix-led transaction, the company and its partners would share HMX’s equity, although Iconix would most likely own the trademarks. The new owners would continue to operate all of HMX’s current brands, which include Hart Schaffner Marx, Hickey Freeman, Bobby Jones and Coppley.
A spokeswoman for Iconix declined comment Wednesday.
Doug Williams, chief executive officer of HMX, said, “The company doesn’t speculate on market rumors. SKNL, management and its advisers are completely focused on ensuring the future of HMX and its brands.”
HMX’s history originated from the now-defunct Hartmarx Corp., which was acquired out of bankruptcy by Indian firm S. Kumars Nationwide Ltd. in August 2009 and renamed HMX. London-based Emerisque Brands holds a minority stake in HMX.
While Williams and Joseph Abboud, president and chief creative officer of HMX, have been working to turn the group around, the men’s wear firm has had issues this year regarding its financial structure. In August, the company closed on a new financing facility with Salus Capital Partners. The new one replaced the facility HMX had with its former lending group, led by Wells Fargo and J.P. Morgan.
Approval of the new facility was finalized in June but hit a roadblock due to a required cash infusion from SKNL that never arrived. The initial glitch was resolved as continued negotiations centered around a timetable through which SKNL would provide funding via installments.
But market sources indicate that SKNL might be unwilling to continue to fund HMX, increasing the pressure on the firm to find a new owner. One source familiar with the financial structure of HMX acknowledged that “timing is critical” in connection with any acquisition of the firm. If SKNL does not provide its agreed funding, that could jeopardize the availability of HMX’s new facility with Salus Capital.
Sources said that more than two dozen firms have looked at HMX, although Iconix seems to be the most interested. Rumblings over the future of HMX and its funding first surfaced at the MAGIC show in Las Vegas in August. There were also rumors that a management-led buyout might be in the works. While the accuracy of the speculation could not be determined, sources said any new owner would likely keep Williams and Abboud on board, given their efforts in overhauling the business and updating the collections.
There are major hurdles to any possible acquisition of HMX, namely the status of the unions and the North American factories that are part of its operations. HMX operates three factories — in Chicago, Rochester and Hamilton, Ontario.
Market sources believe that discussions may have already included union feedback, and that the unions are already on board with a possible sale of the company. One source familiar with the discussions said “there’s been no discussion or intent to shut down any factory.” The source concluded that the unions see a sale with continued factory production as a “commitment to American manufacturing,” and as a result, the factories would not be an issue in any transaction currently under discussion.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
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Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast