Zimmermann, the Australian ready-to-wear and swimwear brand, has received a minority investment from equity firm General Atlantic to accelerate the company’s expansion.
Sisters Nicky and Simone Zimmermann founded their namesake label in Sydney in 1991. The brand is known for its boho-romantic printed dresses, lace peasant tops and skirts, and feminine one-pieces and sculptural bikinis. Its product range includes rtw, swim and resort, accessories and children’s wear. Zimmermann’s founders and management team remain majority shareholders in the company, and General Atlantic representatives will join the Zimmermann board. The size of the stake could not be learned.
“The business is growing and there’s a lot of momentum. We want to continue to build a global brand and the opportunity to work with a partner who shares our vision and who can assist us in achieving some of our plans sooner is an appealing one,” Simone said.
Nicky added she and her sister feel fortunate “to work with incredibly creative people and to continue on this journey to take our Australian fashion story to an even larger audience around the world.”
In addition to several stand-alone stores throughout Australia, Zimmerman has freestanding boutiques on Mercer Street in New York, Melrose Place in Los Angeles, East Hampton, N.Y., and the Americana in Manhasset, N.Y. The company, which has been showing its collection in New York for the last several years, in addition to Sydney, has showrooms in Sydney, London, New York and Los Angeles. Its account base includes 250 doors, including such retailers as Saks Fifth Avenue, Net-a-porter, Shopbop, Barneys New York and David Jones. Sources estimate the brand generates between $75 million and $100 million in sales.
The company declined to confirm the company’s volume but said current business was doing well.
“Sales across the business are very strong,” Simone said. “I think our ready-to-wear has a different point of view and we are seeing our customer really respond to that. And the swim and resort continues to grow as we continue to push that creatively.”
Asked how they got together with General Atlantic, Simone said, “We have considered various opportunities and ultimately it came down to the people and the common vision we had for Zimmermann. General Atlantic really believes in the direction we’re heading and are aligned with us on how we build our brand and the things that are important to us. We will continue to run the brand as we do today. General Atlantic are not operators and they don’t pretend to be. But they are long-term strategic partners with global resources and valuable experience that will help us grow.”
The company’s next phase of growth includes expanding its presence globally with multichannel distribution including store openings, selective wholesale partnerships and e-commerce throughout the U.S., Europe and the rest of the world.
General Atlantic has made strategic investments in firms such as Tory Burch, Too Faced Cosmetics, Uber and Airbnb.
“As Australia’s leading luxury fashion brand, Zimmermann brings a fresh perspective to the global luxury fashion market with a truly outstanding creative energy and a clear and differentiated design vision,” said Andrew Ferrer, principal of General Atlantic’s Global Retail & Consumer team, based in New York. He added that there was significant opportunity to expand across all channels and geographies.
Asked what attracted General Atlantic to Zimmermann, Ferrer said, “As retail and consumer growth investors, we seek brands with innovative and highly creative product, authentic brand legacies and ambitious talented teams that are driven to continue growing. In Zimmermann, we saw all these elements.” He said that after having conversations with thought leaders in fashion and consumer research he found that women love the brand. “We believe we can help the company grow in the U.S., Europe and around the world,” he said.
Ferrer said he will help Zimmermann create strategies for its retail rollout, e-commerce expansion and key wholesale partnerships. “The company is no rush to get big, but we all believe Zimmermann has great potential to grow into a significantly larger brand over the coming several years,” Ferrer said.