NEW YORK — Five years after launching his namesake business, Derek Lam is moving ahead with the help of a new financial partner.
Labelux Group, the Vienna-based luxury goods holding company that recently added Swiss shoe brand Bally International and London jewelry designer Solange Azagury-Partridge to its portfolio, has taken a majority stake in Derek Lam International LLC.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the plan is to turn the label into a global luxury fashion brand, starting with the first freestanding Derek Lam retail store on Crosby Street here next year.
For Lam, the financial prowess of Labelux will offer a way to take his business to the next level. Labelux parent Joh. A. Benckiser SE is a family controlled financial holding company, and has subsidiaries in Vienna and Milan. The Benckiser family also owns the beauty giant Coty Inc.
"There were certain milestones we wanted to reach," Lam said Tuesday, sitting at his Starrett-Lehigh Building headquarters with his business partner and chief executive officer, Jan-Hendrik Schlottmann. "We wanted to really make this a significant endeavor, and we came to the realization that to do that, you need a significant investment that was beyond what we have been doing for the first five years. After spending a lot of time with Berndt [Hauptkorn, ceo of Labelux] and Peter [Harf, ceo of Joh. A. Benckiser], and knowing Peter's track record and his beliefs in how to build a luxury brand, we realized we shared the same beliefs and approach."
Lam and Schlottmann, who founded their label, pursued global distribution since the early days.
The designer has been making his mark with luxurious, wearable clothes in recent seasons. Lam grew up in San Francisco and came to New York to study at Parsons School of Design. He worked at Michael Kors, designing for both the signature and bridge collections for eight years, and had a two year-stint for moderate-price retail chain G2000 in Hong Kong.
Since launching, Lam expanded into eyewear, which is licensed to Modo, and shoes and handbags, licensed to Tod's. Lam is the creative director of Tod's, and will continue in that role.
Lam and Schlottmann credited Domenico De Sole for introducing them to Labelux. The pair has been working closely with the former Gucci chief since winning a runner-up award at the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund in 2005, which included a mentorship program with de Sole.
"Domenico's perspective, from the very beginning when he looked at our business plan, was that in order to get the brand to the next level, we need to have our own store," Schlottmann said. "He continued to advise us [after the yearlong mentorship ended], and we actively started evaluating different proposals. He introduced us to Berndt and Labelux."
Schlottmann added that he and Lam were immediately drawn to Labelux's strategy of buying and building a brand. For Labelux, the main appeal to the label was Lam himself.
"He is great with his ready-to-wear, but also very experienced and talented in the area of shoes and bags," Hauptkorn said. "These are prerequisites for a path of growth."
Hauptkorn said there were several "pillars of growth" that were being considered.
"We want to maintain a high focus on product, and product quality," he said. "We will not sacrifice the luxury position for both. When it comes to growing the brand, a retail presence is very important. It will not be the end of the strategy with the one retail store. We will also put Derek on the global map."
Lam sells his namesake collection in 35 countries. While the brand has had its origins in the U.S., Lam has since brought his collections to upscale specialty stores worldwide, in markets that include Italy, the U.K., Japan, Russia and the Middle East. He sells at stores such as Barneys New York, Joyce in Hong Kong and 10 Corso Como in Milan.
"The brand is already very global in its presence if you look at its distribution," Hauptkorn added. "We would look to further strengthen distribution in different markets."
Hauptkorn said he expects the brand to "have a global retail presence, meaning a certain amount of stores, which will help really put the brand on the map; a good solid wholesale presence, a presence in various categories, most probably some selected licensing activities on top of that, but always with a high quality criteria."
There'll be no rest for those headed to Europe for men's, as Paris just closed the gap with Milan. According to a provisional calendar released by the Chambre Syndicale, Paris Men's Week will now open a day earlier on January 16. See new highlights on the official lineup on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
BREAKING: Jonathan Saunders is leaving @DVF. The designer has resigned from his position as chief creative officer of Diane von Furstenberg, the company said in a statement on Friday. At the time of his hire, von Furstenberg said Saunders’ arrival symbolized and facilitated her stepping back from the day-to-day duties that occupy the work of a full-time creative director. The British designer joined DVF in May 2016 and was in charge of all product categories. #wwdnews
For @versace_official’s spring ad campaign, the brand emphasized the archival prints from the spring tribute collection dedicated to the late Gianni Versace. Closing out the show were five of Gianni’s favorite models: Cindy, Naomi, Carla, Helena, and Claudia. Bowing on December 18, the new campaign is yet another tribute to supermodel-dom as the images by Steven Meisel are fronted by @iamnaomicampbell, @cturlington, @gisele and more. #wwdfashion
Four-time Oscar-nominated actress Annette Bening has been waiting 20 years to play Gloria Graham in "Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool," which will be released on December 29. The movie about Graham – a Hollywood star known for her controversial relationship with a younger Englishman named Peter Turner – is based off a memoir Turned wrote. "She felt vulnerable to him, because she loved him, she really did love him. And anyone that we really truly are in love with, we re vulnerable to in a very deep way," said Bening. Read our full interview with the modern icon of an actress on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @ninebagatelles; Styled by @cristinaehrlich)
The crisp white button down: a staple that can be dressed up or down and accessorized throughout the decades. Here, on a Art Basel-goer in 2017 on the left and on the iconic Audrey Hepburn in “Roman Holiday” in 1953 on the right. #tbt #wwdfashion (📷: Andrew Morales)
Known for her work with @victoriassecret, 25-year-old model @georgiafowler is raising her profile in Hollywood. Fowler stars in @vincecamuto’s holiday campaign, which launched in partnership with “Pitch Perfect 3.” “Almost every shoot with Vince Camuto, I’ve had to face a fear…It was definitely a challenge. I’m so grateful for it, though. I’ve always wanted to be a pop star, so that was the perfect chance,” Fowler said. Head to WWD.com to read about Fowler’s experience modeling, including at the #VSFashionShow, and her relationship with Nick Jonas. #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
EXCLUSIVE: Huda Kattan just became the first beauty influencer to land a major beauty deal. Kattan's business, @hudabeauty, has received a minority investment from private equity firm TSG Consumer Partners. The brand, which industry sources say is on track to do $200 million in retail sales for 2017, will receive support on product, retail and geographic expansion through the deal. Get all the details on the deal and read @_a_collins' interview with Kattan on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdbeauty #wwdnews
Peruvian model @juanaburga_official – who is known for walking the runways of @rodarte, @viviennewestwood and @torybuch – is making the move to the big screen with drama “Los Últimos.” The film premiered in Argentina in November and arrives in the U.S. and Europe in 2018. On making the switch from modeling to acting, Burga told WWD: “It’s a completely different thing – a lot of people think it’s similar or try to connect things, especially like getting used to the camera or being looked at all the time or playing these different characrers, but film is a completely different story.” #wwdeye (📷: @jgreenery)
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)