By and
with contributions from Lisa Lockwood
 on January 22, 2020
Backstage at Ami Alexandre Mattiussi Men’s Fall 2020

PARIS — Ami designer Alexandre Mattiussi has generated considerable heat for his young label lately, and the company is talking to potential investors to fuel future expansion, WWD has learned.

According to sources, the fashion house, which is majority-owned by Mattiussi and chief executive officer Nicolas Santi-Weil, has held discussions with potential investors including family offices, strategics and private equity funds. One source said it has mandated Lazard for a potential deal.

It has been a blockbuster anniversary year for Ami — not everyone celebrates nine years, but designer Mattiussi considers it his lucky number — which has ignited interest in Asia, and further afield, following a tour of Shanghai, Seoul and Tokyo in October.

Following a Paris street-themed fashion show in Shanghai, the brand took to Seoul and Tokyo, where it opened pop-up stores.

Rounding out the celebrations was the men’s show last week, at the start of Paris Fashion Week Men’s. Held at Trianon, a 19th-century theater and concert hall near Montmartre, Mattiussi sent out a coed lineup that updated Sixties looks with an androgynous bent, and arranged models on a Paris street scene in the finale.

The brand has garnered attention beyond Asia and Europe as well, and has been worn by NBA stars and, most recently, Will Smith, who sported a checked coat from the label at a recent movie promotion event for the film “Bad Boys for Life,” which opened in the U.S. last weekend.

In this context, the designer has also caught the attention of executives at larger labels. According to sources, representatives of Calvin Klein, which has said it is searching for creative talent in the wake of the December 2018 exit of chief creative officer Raf Simons, have shown an interest in Mattiussi.

Representatives of search firm Karen Harvey Consulting Group, which is understood to be handling the global search, were spotted at Ami’s men’s show last week.

Mattiussi declined to comment, but said no discussions are under way. One source said Jason Wu, Zac Posen, Reed Krakoff and Brandon Maxwell could also be potential candidates for the Calvin Klein position, although other sources downplayed those names and said their understanding was that no appointment was imminent.

A spokeswoman for Calvin Klein Inc. had no comment on any particular conversations with designers.

The spokeswoman made clear, though, that the brand is not actively looking for a chief creative officer to fill Simons’ role. The brand is seeking a head of design, who would report to Suzanne Barton, chief product officer for the brand. It’s a role that would be global in scope.

Barton was named chief product officer in July 2019. Earlier she was global head of close to body design at Calvin Klein, where she was responsible for ensuring brand alignment across Calvin Klein Underwear, Calvin Klein Performance and Calvin Klein Swim, and also served as executive vice president, design and merchandising, men’s apparel, North America. Previously she was executive vice president, head of product creation overseeing design and merchandising for underwear, jeans and sportswear businesses.

Nonetheless, if Mattiussi opted to take on an additional design project, it could temper investor interest and reduce his company’s valuation.

Ami has eight stores around the world, including in Paris, London, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Beijing and Chengdu, and is sold in 300 points of sale. Sales have been growing rapidly — around 60 percent, year-over-year — and consolidated turnover in 2019 came to around 35 million euros.

Ami was founded in 2011 by Mattiussi, who received funds from the French state-owned investment bank Banque Publique d’Investissement the following year.

Santi-Weil invested in the brand when he became ceo in 2013, the same year Mattiussi won the ANDAM fashion prize — generating funds he invested in his company.

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