Paul Stuart, known for its special take on Anglo-American fashion, has been sold to its Japanese licensee.
The venerable New York City retailer, which has been a fixture on Madison Avenue for nearly 75 years, was acquired by Mitsui & Co. Ltd., for an undisclosed sum on Dec. 28. The news was kept under wraps until Tuesday when the Tokyo-based company revealed that Paul Stuart’s founding families agreed to sell their shares to Mitsui, which has become the retailer’s sole owner.
Michael Ostrove, president and chief executive officer and the third generation of the founding family to run the business, said: “I am delighted that we are able to cement and extend our relationship with respected partners of such long standing. Their commitment to Paul Stuart’s quality, integrity and continuity in every way mirrors our own. It is our great good fortune, as we begin our 75th anniversary year, to be presented this opportunity not only to polish, preserve and enhance our existing position, but to further build and expand our brand in such a positive manner.”
Ostrove was in Europe Tuesday and unavailable to comment further, but sources said he has signed a long-term contract to retain his position and will operate the U.S. portion of the business, which includes a Chicago store as well as the Madison Avenue flagship.
Paul Stuart, a 60,000-square-foot emporium on 45th Street and Madison, was founded in 1938 by Ralph Ostrove and his cousin Norman. Ralph Ostrove named the store after his son, Paul Stuart Ostrove. For nearly 60 years, the store was run by Clifford Grodd, who had married Ralph Ostrove’s daughter Barbara, along with Paul Ostrove. Paul Ostrove died in 2004 and Grodd in 2010. Since Grodd’s death, rumors have been circulating that the company would be sold.
Under Grodd’s tutelage, Paul Stuart became known for its soft-shoulder look in tailoring and is believed to have been the first American retailer to bring side vents to the States, as well as the three-button suit. All of the merchandise at Paul Stuart bears the retailer’s name. It designs much of its own product and alters what it buys in the market so it adheres to the Paul Stuart aesthetic.
Mitsui’s relationship with Paul Stuart dates to 1975 when it began to import the retailer’s private label merchandise into the Japanese market. In 1991, the relationship was expanded and Mitsui was granted an exclusive license to produce and sell Paul Stuart product in Japan. Since that time, Mitsui has sub-licensed the brand to Sanyo Shokai Ltd. and 13 other companies, which offer a wide range of product under the Paul Stuart name. There are two Paul Stuart flagships — in Aoyama and Ginza — in Tokyo as well as about 100 in-store shops in department stores and outlet centers throughout Japan along with e-commerce sites, all operated by Sanyo.
For the year ended March 31, annual retail sales of the brand in Japan reached 11.5 billion yen, or $133 million at current exchange.
Mitsui said the Paul Stuart trademark is registered in more than 30 countries in the Americas, Europe and Asia, all of which will now be controlled by Mitsui. This will allow the company to expand the brand globally. The goal, Mitsui said, is to grow the Japanese-licensed business to 20 billion yen, or $231 million, by 2015.
Mitsui said it “considers emerging countries as strategic markets in the fashion business domain. While the fashion market becomes more mature and sophisticated, as the income level rises in these markets, Mitsui believes that the demand for the Paul Stuart brand will grow and will contribute to expand brand recognition and business in these markets.”
London’s newly opened @designmuseum will look back on the life and work of Azzedine Alaïa in a show that the designer helped to curate before he died of heart failure last month. The retrospective, which Alaïa had worked on with Mark Wilson, chief curator of the @groningermuseum, will look at the impact of his work worldwide. The show, “Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier,” will run from May 10 to October 7. Read more about the exhibit on WWD.com #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @zefashioninsider)
@Pharrell and his wife Helen Lasichanh were among the stars that came out to celebrate @rimowa’s first pop-up concept shop. The space, which is located on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, draws inspiration from airport luggage carousels and lounge areas – and features the company’s luggage and accessories. If the pop-up is successful it could pave the way for addition temporary shops throughout the world. #wwdfashion (📷: Owen Kolasinski/BFA)
@carineroitfeld celebrated @crfashionbook’s first calendar last night with a dinner party at Spring Place in Manhattan. Photographed by @stevenkleinstudio, the calendar takes on a fitness theme and features @joansmalls, @gigihadid, @danielle_herrington_ – pictured here – and more. “[Carine Roitfeld] wanted me to feel sexy and she wanted me to be myself and feel it out on my own and do what I felt was right,” said Herrington, aka Miss October. #wwdeye
@saintrecords and @virgilabloh last night at @americanexpress’ “A Night With Success Makers” event. “I always bring it back to community because without that I wouldn’t have the courage,” said Knowles when asked how she has gotten where she is now. Read more highlights from their conversation on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @lizdoupnik)
This Just In: Industry sources have told WWD that Anastasia Soare is rumored to be considering selling her beauty business, @anastasiabeverlyhills. According to those sources, Soare has tapped investment bank Imperial Capital to explore sale options for her eponymous beauty brand –– and with at least $340 million in net sales, this would be a big deal. Put in context of other recent transactions for makeup companies, Soare’s price tag could be in the billions if she were to sell the whole thing. #wwdnews #wwdbeauty (📷: @clint_spaulding)
@assouline’s latest book, “The Spirit of Bentley: Be Extraordinary” captures the adventurous attitudes and opulent lifestyles of @bentleymotors’ most creative owners and enthusiasts throughout the U.K. The 292-page hardcover has a section dedicated to showing its team of skilled artisans and photos of its most colorful owners, from George Bamford to designer @alicetemperley, pictured here by Aline Coquelle. #wwdeye
@google released its report on the most popular search terms this year. For fashion brands, the list was led by @gucci, the luxury brand that stunned the market last October when it pledged to stop using fur. Runner ups were @supremenewyork and @fashionnova, along with more established brands like @louisvuitton, @chanelofficial and @ysl. #wwdfashion (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
In yet another fashion show shuffle, @elleryland is moving its show in sync with the Paris couture calendar — though the brand is still keeping one foot on the city’s ready-to-wear schedule. Their runway show in January will coincide with the launch of a new strategy: designing two main collections each year instead of four, which will then be released in four drops. “As we all know, the system needs to change. We need to show sooner to give time back to artisans and designers to do what they do best — create,” said founder Kym Ellery. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
@maxmara’s classic 101801 coat was the cornerstone of its pre-fall 2018 collection. The design team expanded the traditional double-breasted, kimono-sleeved style into a trapeze coat, lean belted styles and a peacoat and presented them in monochromatic looks – like the camel one pictured here. #wwdfashion #prefall18 (📷: George Chinsee)