By  on April 22, 2010

MILAN — Japanese-Chinese investment banking business Sequedge has taken an initial 17 percent share in Costume National, owned by brothers Ennio and Carlo Capasa, and has the option to increase its stake to 33 percent by the end of 2011. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The partnership allows Costume National to develop the brand globally, with a focus on China, the Far East and Japan. In September, a Costume National flagship will open in Hong Kong, followed by a venue comprising an art gallery in Tokyo’s Aoyama district in January in a building co-designed by creative director Ennio Capasa. With the new partner, the Capasas will set up Costume National USA to directly manage their business in that market.

“We are a small company, but we wanted to find new energies, rethink our structure and our approach to the business,” said chief executive officer Carlo Capasa, conceding the company was hit by the economy last year, posting a 30 percent decline in revenues to 70 million euros, or $97.3 million at average exchange rate.

The Capasas, who expect sales to reach 200 million euros, or $269.8 million at current exchange, in three to four years, will retain their roles within the company, which they founded in 1986. Capasa said he and his brother found “great affinity” with Kazunari Shirai, chief executive officer of the Hong Kong-based Sequedge, who will join the board of Costume National.

“As a customer, I have loved wearing Costume National for more than 10 years as the brand keeps on creating the best fashion-forward garments staying true to its original philosophy, while many other brands change their style completely to please popular taste,” said Shirai, adding he was committed to supporting Costume National both financially and strategically.

Capasa said he expects to continue to honor the licensing agreement with Ittierre, which produces and distributes the company’s younger line C’N’C Costume National, launched in 2004. “We have an eight-year contract with Ittierre, but there is a midterm review in two years,” said Capasa.

In general, Capasa said he’s seen positive signals from the market in the January-March period, with a 26 percent uptick at retail. The company counts five stores in Rome, Milan, Paris, New York and Los Angeles, and 350 multibrand points of sale. Its online store was launched in 2008. Capasa said the restyling of the Costume National Milan boutique is planned in August. “We are also looking for a second store in the city,” he said. A store will also open in Korea in July.

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