By Evan Clark
with contributions from Julia Neel
 on July 20, 2016

There might not be a lot of M&A activity in the fashion world, but here are 10 companies experts believe are ripe to cut a deal in the next 12 months.

This story first appeared in the July 13, 2016 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Barneys New York
Barneys New York has long been near and dear to the Pop Art-loving financier Richard Perry, whose Perry Capital gained a majority stake in the luxe retailer in a 2012 debt swap. But times are tough in the world of high finance and the hedge fund has seen its assets under management shrink to $8.3 billion in June from $11.6 billion in March. That — and what no doubt will be sticky lease renewal negotiations for the retailer’s Madison Avenue and Beverly Hills flagships — might well have contributed to Perry’s decision to hire Goldman Sachs to explore the sale of a stake in one of fashion’s top properties, although it’s not certain if more than a minority stake is up for grabs.

Rebecca Minkoff
Rebecca Minkoff, which has consistently been one of the first fashion brands to embrace new technologies and platforms like Instagram and Snapchat, might now embrace a new investor. Private equity firm TSG Consumer Partners took a minority stake in 2012 and is said to be looking to sell. While linked up with TSG, Minkoff has been on a growth track, expanding beyond e-commerce to its own stores. The company has outposts in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Hong Kong and the Middle East.

Vineyard Vines
Shep and Ian Murray, who founded Vineyard Vines with ties in 1998, are said to be looking to bring in an investor with the help of Goldman Sachs. The preppy brand known for its pink whale logo just opened a 6,000-square-foot flagship in Grand Central Terminal and is on track to have about 100 stores by the end of the year. Financial experts said the brand has annual sales of $550 million to $600 million and has been approached by private equity suitors before.

Alice + Olivia
Alice + Olivia’s chief executive officer and creative director Stacey Bendet cut the ribbon for the brand’s 20th store last month, a 1,300-square-foot unit in Boston’s Back Bay district. Already backed by investor Andrew Rosen, the brand is known for a certain whimsy with its Coachella looks and Grateful Dead capsule collection. It spans apparel, gowns, shoes, handbags and other accessories and is looking for another investor with the help of the Sage Group.

Jack Wills
Fashion Stakes and BlueGem Capital Partners are said to be in talks to acquire a stake in the English retailer Jack Wills from Peter Williams and Inflexion Private Equity. The brand, which caters to the preppy tastes of well-heeled teens and university kids, was founded by Williams and a university friend and the first store opened in 1999 at the posh seaside town of Salcombe in Devon, England. Williams, who still controls 52 percent, returned as ceo last summer, following the departure of the former management consultant Wendy Becker. The brand is planning for 10 new stores in the U.K. and Asia, although its expansion in the U.S. has been more problematic.

Kooples
French contemporary brand The Kooples has been flirting with private equity for some time now and is seen as ready for a deal. The eight-year-old brand, which made its U.S. invasion with flagships in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco in 2014, just launched an American e-commerce site. The brand operates in 15 countries in Europe and counts e-commerce as 9 percent of its business. Online sales grew 25 percent during the first half, according to ceo Nicolas Dreyfus.

Acne Studios
Stockholm-based Acne Studios expanded with its second store in Manhattan last year, an austere and chic outpost on Horatio Street to complement its SoHo flagship and help show the brand’s range. Guided by creative director Jonny Johansson, Acne can also play to the surf crowd. Johansson — who’s surfed for just four years, but with enough enthusiasm to collect 50 boards — tapped fellow surfer Robin Kegel to model for the company’s first men’s wear campaign this year. Acne has flagships in Paris, London, Los Angeles and Tokyo and although a spokeswoman said the brand has no intention of selling any part of its business, investment bankers are buzzing.

Milly
Andrew Oshrin, president of contemporary brand Milly, said business has been good and that “you capitalize on good times in this industry.” He’s looking to bring in an investor to help diversify and grow the business. Designed by Michelle Smith, the brand ships colorful takes on ready-to-wear, handbags, small leather goods and swim to accounts in 150 countries. It also has two stores, in New York and East Hampton, as well as an e-commerce site.

Diamond Supply Co.
In what’s been a rough stretch for the skateboarding set, Los Angeles-based Diamond Supply Co. has continued to roll on and is gathering admirers in the investment crowd. Founded by Nicholas Tershay, aka Nick Diamond, in 1998, the company got its start in skateboarding hardware but quickly expanded into fashion with T-shirts, fleece, accessories and more. Tershay has collaborated with Nike and opened a flagship in the Fairfax area of Los Angeles in 2006.

Calzedonia
The Verona-based underwear, beachwear and hosiery firm was founded in 1987 by ceo Sandro Veronesi and now has 26,000 employees and 3,500 points of distribution for its brands, which include Calzedonia, Intimissimi and Tezenis. In 2014, sales tallied 1.8 billion euros. Last year, the company tapped Julia Roberts for its TV commercials for some star power. But any would-be buyer would have to compete against a potential initial public offering since Calzedonia made Pambianco’s annual ranking of the “most listable” Italian fashion companies.

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