LONDON — Savile Row tailor Richard James has sold a majority stake to one of its longstanding customers, Charles S. Cohen, an American real estate and film industry entrepreneur, WWD has learned.
This story first appeared in the March 2, 2017 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
As reported, Richard James cofounder Sean Dixon had been looking for an investor to take the business forward, and in 2015 hired Ironbridge Capital Partners to seek a new strategic investment partner. He described the new deal as a strategic partnership that will fuel an international growth in the U.S. and Asia in particular.
Cohen will take up the title of chairman, with plans to play an “active” role in the business. Dixon, who cofounded the brand with Richard James more than 25 years ago, will continue in his role as managing director.
Toby Lamb will remain design director while James will remain in an ambassadorial role. An announcement is expected later today.
Dixon called the investment a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to build the brand internationally. “Charles brings a vision that matches our own and the wherewithal to accelerate our plans. We are looking forward to taking full advantage of the new horizons this partnership will open up,” he said.
In a telephone interview, Dixon said Cohen has been a client for about 15 years and has a “strong” sympathy for, and understanding of, the brand. “He also has a real appetite for quality, and for doing things correctly and properly.”
Dixon, who retains a minority stake in the company, added that Cohen’s property holdings and expertise would also help the brand expand. Already Richard James plans to take over the entirety of its Clifford Street building, adding ready-to-wear to the ground floor, with bespoke services upstairs. The Clifford Street shop currently offers bespoke only.
The brand’s collections also sell at stores including Selfridges, Harrods, Matchesfashion.com, Mr Porter, Brown Thomas in Ireland, Barneys New York and Hudson’s Bay Co.
Although fashion may be a new business for him, Cohen said he was intrigued by the opportunity. He said his wife, Clo Cohen, introduced him to the team after “recognizing the creative skill of Toby and the ambitions of Sean and Richard.”
He said the decision to invest and get involved was an easy one.
Cohen’s real estate holdings include 12 million square feet of prime properties across the United States, including the office tower at 623 Fifth Avenue, Manhattan’s Decoration and Design (D&D) Building, the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood, Calif., and the renovated and soon-to-reopen Quad Cinema in Greenwich Village. Cohen is also building Le Meridien hotel at the Design Center of the Americas in south Florida.
Cohen is in the film business, too. He is the owner, chairman and chief executive officer of Cohen Media Group, an independent film production and distribution company that owns a library of Buster Keaton, Douglas Fairbanks, Alfred Hitchcock and Luis Buñuel films as well as a library of classic Merchant Ivory ones.
Cohen Media Group also distributes independent, foreign language and art house films throughout North America and has released more than 64 to date. His company also has a library division that has restored and distributed more than 200 classic films.
In addition to tailoring, Richard James sells rtw and accessories and, until recently, was a fixture on the London men’s wear calendar. Founded in 1992, the tailor has one shop on Savile Row and the other on Clifford Street nearby. Clients include George Clooney, John Legend, Benedict Cumberbatch, Robert Downey Jr. and Mark Ronson.
Richard James was advised by Michael Pearce of Ironbridge Capital Partners LLP. Charles Cohen was advised by Jamie Dworkin of Threadstone Partners LP and David Fogel, senior vice president acquisitions and finance, handled the transaction internally for Cohen.