The custom clothier, founded in 2005 by David Schottenstein, has received an undisclosed investment by Massachusetts-based Castanea Partners, a $575 million private equity firm that last month purchased a majority interest in footwear manufacturer Donald J Pliner. The company also owns cosmetics firm Urban Decay. This is its first foray into men’s wear. “It’s like acquiring an entire wardrobe,” said Brian Knez, managing partner.
Terms were not disclosed, but Castanea generally invests between $15 million and $75 million in companies within its portfolio.
Astor & Black employs a staff of 100 direct sales specialists who visit customers in their homes or offices and fit them for full canvas, custom suits and furnishings. Hand-picked stitching, functioning buttonholes and Bemberg silk linings are standard on all garments, and the firm offers thousands of fabric choices from mills including Dormeuil, Marzoni and Scabal. The average price of a suit is around $1,000, according to Christian Boehm, president of Astor & Black, but opening price-point models are available for as low as $499. The company, which also offers sportswear, accessories and women’s wear, has an online business as well.
As part of the deal, Schottenstein will continue to head the business and will retain a significant equity interest.
“We could not have been paired with a better partner,” Schottenstein said. “We’ve been doubling our size every year, but we’re still small. So we look at this as a real opportunity to grow.”
Reports put the company’s volume at more than $20 million in 2010, and Boehm said sales this year are projected to reach $35 million to $50 million.
“We still have the same goal, to be the number-one custom clothier in the country,” Schottenstein said. “We’re just going to continue what we’re doing, but we now have the resources to add executives to the team and make other investments.” Boehm said the company will add people in sales, recruitment, merchandising, finance and e-commerce. “We’re looking for the right people in various areas,” he said.
Boehm said international expansion is also in the offing and Astor & Black will expand into London this spring. The company already operates in Melbourne, Australia, as well as Canada. “International is a booming market,” Boehm said, noting that the new association with Castanea “will help us take the brand to the next level. It’s run by some of the best people in the business,” including former Neiman Marcus co-chief executive officer Robert Smith.
Knez said the appeal of the company is that it is “run by a really dynamic, young, brilliant entrepreneur. He has reinvented the custom clothing category, which is the fastest growing category in the men’s market today. The business provides an excellent value proposition, good quality and service. The business model is good, it’s quite profitable and has good cash flow.”
He said the company also has created strong customer loyalty, which is another advantage.
“The model is superappealing,” he said. “And there is additional growth opportunity there.”
Troy Stanfield, a partner with Castanea, added: “The business has significant wind at its back as the apparel market continues to see a rapid trend towards customization. There is a meaningful opportunity to accelerate growth by implementing digital strategies that heighten the customer’s experience and convey the Astor & Black value proposition to potential customers.”
Schottenstein is a member of the Columbus, Ohio-based family of the same name that founded the Schottenstein Stores Corp. “I didn’t go into the family business,” he said. “But I guess it’s in my blood, I can’t shake it.”
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)