M3/Relativity, the fashion division of Beverly Hills-based media firm Relativity, has invested in contemporary men’s wear and accessories brand life/after/denim along with Ron Burkle and Ashton Kutcher.
This story first appeared in the October 1, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
It is the fund’s first publicly disclosed investment, the size of which was not shared. M3 will become a minority shareholder in the Series A round of funding in the Los Angeles-based company. Joining M3, also as minority shareholders are Burkle and Kutcher through their venture capital fund A-Grade Investments. M3 will serve as an adviser to the brand, launched in 2009, to accelerate its growth and expansion opportunities. Chris Hollod, of Burkle’s The Yucaipa Cos. and fund manager for A-Grade Investments, will join Alexis Frey, life/after/denim (LAD) cofounder, president and creative director, on the brand’s board.
“We appreciate and welcome Ashton’s eye for both tech and style along with Ron’s business savvy,” Frey said.
Kutcher said of his investment in LAD: “I found myself wearing LAD all the time and telling friends about the brand — then suddenly I noticed that they were all wearing LAD. So my investing philosophy is to invest in things that I love and use every single day. This way, you reduce the downside on an investment, because you always get the pleasure of using the product and supporting something you believe in.”
Martin Dolfi, managing partner at M3’s fashion accelerator investment fund, said that M3 will work with its portfolio companies to identify key areas in need and provide a strategy. “Every situation presents itself with unique challenges and areas of opportunity and we work hard with our partners to ensure customized solutions and results,” Dolfi said.
Investments in earlier-stage firms is one component of M3’s three-pronged business model. M3 has also invested in another brand. The company said it could not disclose details. Its consulting business for clients in the fashion, beauty, style and creative design space represents its second leg, while its connection to media-centric parent Relativity allows M3 to leverage its parent’s platforms across film, television, sports, digital, music and fashion to accelerate growth, representing the final part of its business model.
Yucaipa’s Hollod, said, “Alexis and her team have already created an amazing brand, built a viable wholesale business and developed a solid e-commerce platform. With our investment, strategic advice and relationships, we can definitely help propel LAD to the next level.”
According to Frey, LAD was established as a casual luxury line for young men to complement the premium and vintage denim already in their wardrobes. The company has been self-funded to date. Frey said the Series A funding will help to “fuel strategic growth initiatives, ranging from optimizing our e-commerce platform to launching more marketing campaigns.” The company just relaunched a Web site, adding full-featured e-commerce options. LAD doesn’t have any brick-and-mortar sites yet, although freestanding stores are on the horizon, Frey said.