Innov8 has invested in Skingraft, an L.A.-based line started by brothers Jonny and Christopher Cota in 2006.
According to Jonny Cota, who was previously a circus performer and costume designer, the Innov8 deal, which he calls a “very equal partnership,” came after multiple investment opportunities that were never the right fit.
“Previous investors offered money without any guidance,” Cota said. “If you just throw a bunch of money at kids, it doesn’t mean it’s going to turn into a successful business. Innov8 has experience in manufacturing and category expansion.”
The new partnership with Innov8, an investment holding company that’s also invested in brands including Noble Outfitters, a horse riding apparel retailer, and First Tactical, a law enforcement uniform retailer, was made official in August. It has translated to a more diverse assortment for the brand’s men’s and women’s collections. Skingraft, which started as a custom business, specializes in leather. For its spring 2016 collection, Cota showed more accessible items — denim, knitwear and cotton basics — alongside his signature intricate leather pieces.
“We had a narrow focus. Now our aesthetic speaks to a larger audience,” Cota said.
Innov8 has opened up Skingrafts’ manufacturing resources and streamlined its processes. The majority of the brand’s leather pieces are produced in a factory in Bali, which Cota owns, but the knitwear and denim is produced in China. Cota told WWD that they will produce some denim in Los Angeles. These changes have led to a decrease in prices by about 25 percent, according to Cota. The line retails from a $100 for knits to $1,250 for specialty leather pieces. Broadening its footwear and accessory options is in the works.
The investment will also lead to an increased wholesale distribution plan. Skingraft is currently sold in 30 independent, directional boutiques in the U.S., but most of its business, about 70 percent, comes from Europe. Expanding its domestic distribution and moving into department stores is another goal for Cota, who recently hired a design team.
Because of the new partnership, Cota said revenue is on track to double from 2014.