NEW YORK — Could Theory be a step closer to snapping up Proenza Schouler?
According to several sources, Theory’s Andrew Rosen is looking to buy the Proenza Schouler brand from European private equity fund Permira. The rumor first surfaced in the early spring, but Rosen, Theory’s co-founder and president, denied it at the time. However, talk of a deal resurfaced this week, and sources are confident Rosen and the Proenza Schouler designers are up to something this time.
See the Proenza Schouler RTW Spring 2011 collection >>
Representatives for Theory and Proenza Schouler could not be reached for comment Thursday, the day of the Proenza Schouler show — which Rosen attended.
Read about how Proenza Schouler prepped for their show >>
As first reported in WWD last March, Permira, which also owns Valentino, has been looking at cashing in its investment in Proenza Schouler and several investment funds are said to have looked at the label.
Valentino Fashion Group took a 45 percent stake in Proenza Schouler in 2007. Designers Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez own the remaining 55 percent with Shirley Cook, their firm’s chief executive officer. It is widely believed that former Valentino chairman Matteo Marzotto steered the Proenza Schouler deal to help the then-emerging designers build their own label through Valentino’s extensive European manufacturing resources, while also securing the much-buzzed-about New York duo to potentially replace Valentino himself when he retired. It is widely believed that after Marzotto left the group in 2008, no significant effort was made by Permira to really grow the Proenza Schouler brand.
For Rosen, a stake in Proenza Schouler would boost his brand portfolio. McCollough and Hernandez launched the label in 2002 and quickly developed it into one of New York Fashion Week’s hottest tickets. Rosen, for his part, already runs Theory and Helmut Lang, which Theory’s Japan-based parent, Link Theory Holdings Co., acquired from Prada in 2006. Rosen also is adept at building businesses. He was instrumental in transforming Helmut Lang into a hot contemporary label and also has stakes in businesses such as Alice + Olivia, Rag & Bone and Gryphon. The executive frequently talks about the opportunity he sees in the upper end of the contemporary arena, and this fashion week introduced his latest venture, Theyskens’ Theory with Olivier Theyskens.