Antonio Marras

MILAN This year is expected to be a golden one for European small and medium-sized fashion companies, which are proving to be extremely appealing for venture capital firms.

Following the recent investments of global investment platform Centricus and Wendy Yu in London-based labels Chalayan and Mary Katrantzou, respectively, other private equity firms have their radar set on Italian brands.

According to market sources, Antonio Marras is negotiating the sale of a stake to Principia SGR, a venture capital company, which last summer created Alis, a fund managing capital of 150 million euros focused on investments in fashion and design firms offering Made in Italy artisanal products. Reached over the weekend, Marras declined comment.

Backstage at Antonio Marras RTW Fall 2018

Backstage at Antonio Marras’ fall show.  Kuba Dabrowski/WWD

This follows the closing on Friday of the transaction between Style Capital and MSGM. The Italian private equity fund has acquired a 32 percent stake in MSGM Srl, the company controlling the namesake contemporary label founded in 2009 by Massimo Giorgetti with the support of manufacturing company Manifattura Paoloni. The latter will retain a 49 percent stake. This confirms a report in WWD last July.

The remaining 19 percent will be controlled by Giorgetti, who will continue to lead the fashion house in the role of creative and artistic director of the brand.

Market sources said Style Capital founder Roberta Benaglia will be appointed chief executive officer of MSGM, a role previously held by Giorgetti. The value of the deal was not disclosed.

“The entry of Style Capital into MSGM represents a decisive turning point in the growth of the company,” Giorgetti said. “I’m extremely pleased with this partnership. It not only means having available capital to invest, but also sharing future development plans with a partner that has always carefully preserved the continuity of its companies, enhanced their strengths and human capital, and added the skills necessary to promote their growth. From the beginning of our negotiations with Style Capital, I understood that not only their specific skills, but also their shared vision and their focus on human relations and the promotion of human resources will be fundamental for growing and guiding the MSGM team.”

“MSGM is a company with an excellent international distribution network, which in addition to Europe includes both Asia (China, South Korea and Japan) — which is the main market of the brand — and America, which has good bases and great untapped potential. Having such a strong identity thanks to its recognizable style, the brand is also focusing on the world of Millennials, who seek contemporary luxury that includes product categories such as T-shirts, sweatshirts, denim and sneakers,” Benaglia said. “The MSGM product is 100 percent Made in Italy: it is colorful and includes a few articles that are extravagant and fun, but never excessive, animated by the energy and engaging positivity of its 40-year-old creative director, who not only has innate talent but is the perfect age to understand the modern woman and also the needs of a younger audience.”

A further development of accessories, along with collaborations and partnerships within the art and music worlds, will be fundamental for the expansion of the brand, according to Benaglia.

MSGM Pre-Fall 2018

A look from MSGM pre-fall.  Courtesy Photo

MSGM closed 2017 with revenues of 50 million euros and an 18 percent gross operating margin. In 2018, the company expects to post revenues of 60 million euros. Italy and Asia, including China, South Korea and Japan, are expected to generate 26 and 35 percent of the company’s total sales, respectively, with Europe and the U.S. accounting the remaining 39 percent.

MSGM is available in 650 multibrand retailers, including leading luxury department stores, and operates 10 boutiques in international locations, such as Milan, Tokyo and Hong Kong, plans to open flagships in London and New York in the second half of 2018. In addition, 30 more MSGM boutiques will bow worldwide within the next three years.

Last April, Style Capital, which manages a portfolio of 100 million euros, acquired a 51 percent stake in women’s wear brand Forte_Forte. The fashion label is opening a flagship store in Milan’s Brera district, in a building facing the MSGM Milan shop.

Style Capital’s parent company Style Capital Sgr also controls the DGPA Capital private-equity fund, which includes investments in beachwear brand Sundek, as well as in jewelry label Damiani. DGPA sold its holding in Golden Goose Deluxe Brand to investment fund Ergon Capital Partners III in May 2015. Golden Goose Deluxe Brand was acquired by Carlyle Europe Partners IV in February. Benaglia left her role as ceo of Golden Goose Deluxe Brand in March.