NEW YORK — It’s the takeover of the day in the fast-consolidating vendor community and the latest has Kellwood Co. apparently in the lead to buy Phat Fashions.
Sources said Russell Simmons, founder and chief executive of Phat Fashions, has been in talks with Kellwood and Tommy Hilfiger Corp. about a possible deal, but at the moment, it appears Kellwood has the edge.
“We are still open, but the sale sounds final,” Simmons told WWD Monday, declining to identify which partner he’s leaning toward. “We are seeking a partnership so we can grow.”
Officials at Hilfiger and Kellwood declined to comment. A New York Times story Sunday reported on widespread rumors in the industry that Simmons was shopping his company around.
Phat Fashions includes the Phat Farm men’s and the Baby Phat women’s lines. The company has sales of about $260 million a year, with the majority from Phat Farm and about $70 million from Baby Phat. Simmons, however, sees the women’s line as the primary growth generator.
While anything can happen in the rough and tumble world of mergers and acquisitions, a deal with Kellwood works on many fronts.
For one, Kellwood already has two licensing deals with Simmons for Def Jam University and Run Athletics. Kellwood also has a long track record of acquisitions and many back-end strengths.
Simmons’ main concern is that he remain at the helm of his company as chairman. He also is looking to grow his men’s and women’s lines through faster deliveries and a larger department store presence. Currently, the majority of Phat Fashions’ business is done through specialty stores.
The entrepreneur has been known to be frustrated for some time with the apparent inability of Seventh Avenue to recognize the potential of Phat Fashions and the urban market. “The big names in this business are so hardheaded, and that’s why my company is growing and theirs are not,” Simmons told attendees of Fairchild’s annual Teens & Tweens Summit in March. “Companies like Kellwood, Claiborne and Jones aren’t paying attention to the numbers. I’m still looking to partner. I also need more distribution.”Consultant Emanuel Weintraub said Kellwood is in a very good position to bid on Phat Fashions. The company has been on the acquisition hunt for a while, just missing out on Kasper A.S.L. when it was outbid by Jones Apparel Group.
“It’s really about the profile of the acquiring companies,” noted the consultant. “If the money is OK with Simmons, Kellwood gets it because, if you look at their profile, they are a very successful acquiring company.
“They can point to a number of companies that have done very, very well and owners who can give testimony,” he noted. “Tommy doesn’t have an acquisition track record and you get into the issue of chemistry.”
However, he said both companies could handle the acquisition.
By expanding the Phat Fashions brands into new merchandise categories, Weintraub added, “The overall long-term potential to possibly make that into a billion-dollar brand is not unrealistic.”
“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
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
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