BERLIN — Hans-Joachim and Gisa Sander have taken an unspecified stake in Wunderkind GmbH & Co. KG, Wolfgang Joop’s Potsdam-based fashion company.
After yearlong negotiations with potential backers in England, Abu Dhabi and Switzerland, German interests won out, said Edwin Lemberg, Joop’s long-term business partner and Wunderkind’s managing director. Gisa Sander is a lawyer and, as a member of the Ströher family, was a co-owner of Wella AG prior to its sale to Procter & Gamble. Her husband is a businessman and a well-known art collector who also served on the advisory board of Wella for many years.
“He has one of the biggest Expressionist collections around, and he related to Wolfgang’s artistic activities,” Lemberg said of Sander. “It’s not just cold business and the Sanders are very supportive and enthusiastic about Wunderkind’s new definition of luxury.”
Neither party would divulge the size of the Sanders’ stake, which Lemberg described as “considerable, but not a majority holding.”
The Sanders will not be involved in the company’s daily business, but their financial infusion will be used to speed Wunderkind’s international expansion. Lemberg said more freestanding stores and an accessories collection are planned, and the advertising budget will be stepped up, with a new campaign for September issues. Wunderkind sales figures have never been revealed, and industry observers couldn’t put a number on sales or Joop’s personal investment in the label.
Joop and Lemberg founded Wunderkind in 2003, two years after Joop severed ties with the fashion company that bears his name and the earliest date his Joop! GmbH contract allowed him to resume design activities. The collection made its debut for the fall-winter 2003/2004 season and is currently carried in 70 doors, including Selfridges, Lotte in South Korea and Mercury in Moscow. A Berlin flagship on Gendarmenmarkt opened last December and a Milan showroom on Via Verri debuted last fall.
Last season, the Chambre Syndicale de la Mode invited Wunderkind to show in Paris and Wunderkind will present its fall collection there on Feb. 26.