CUE INVESTS IN DION LEE: International Woolmark Prize 2013 finalist Dion Lee might have lost the competition’s 100,000 Australian dollar prize (or $102,953 at February exchange) to Belgium’s Christian Wijnants in February, but he’s cashed up.

Lee said that the Sydney-based Cue Clothing Company has taken a shareholding in his five year-old fashion business for an undisclosed sum. “I have a great deal of respect for the Cue team and feel very lucky to be working with a partner who supports my creative vision for the future” said Lee, 26, in a statement.

According to Cue chief executive officer David Kesby, the company has taken a close to 50 percent stake and will assist with Lee’s international acceleration and retail expansion. An online store is due to bow within weeks, with the first brick-and-mortar Dion Lee boutique slated to open in Sydney by year’s end.

Founded in 1968, the privately-owned Cue Clothing Company operates 231 stores across Australia and New Zealand under its high street Cue and Veronika Maine brands and has sales of about 180 million Australian dollars, or $174 million.

Lee’s intricate garments with high tech finishes command four-figure price points at retailers such as Net-a-porter and Australia’s David Jones. He collaborated with Cue for the Australian winter 2011 season with a 48-piece capsule collection called Cue Dion Lee, some pieces from which sold out within days according to Kesby.

“We’re going to be very passive in this partnership,” Kesby told WWD. “We’re really here to support Dion’s creative vision and move forward a little more quickly than he would otherwise have been able to do and let him focus on pure design.”

Lee is the latest high profile Australian fashion brand to partner with a retailer, following the 2011 acquisitions of Willow by Apparel Group and a 65percent stake in sass & bide by the Myer department store chain for 42.3 million Australian dollars [or $42.8 million at February 2011 exchange].

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