Nick Graham

Nick Graham has a new partner.

Tharanco Group Inc. has acquired the majority stake formerly held by Iconix Brand Group in NGX LLC, the company that owns the Nick Graham trademarks, WWD has learned. Tharanco will also partner with Graham’s sales and marketing company, NGL, to distribute the brand’s collection of men’s dress shirts and furnishings.

“This deal will bring significant resources to allow the brand to grow even faster. The team at Tharanco is committed to make this brand reach the scale I know we can get to…” Graham said.

It also brings together two of the best-known names in the men’s wear industry: Graham and Tharanco chief executive officer Michael Setola, a veteran of Salant Corp. and Oxford Industries who joined Tharanco nine years ago.

“Nick is a rare talent in the industry,” said Setola. “What he has and his team have created in three years is nothing short of remarkable. I know we can take this even further, and we look forward to helping him build the global brand that he envisions.”

He said the designer has “a unique perspective on the consumer and the brand is well-positioned from a value perspective, it’s not too top-end or low-end.”

Since starting his brand three years ago, Graham has expanded beyond furnishings and now licenses tailored clothing, outerwear and cold-weather accessories. Dress shirts retail for $69.50, ties for $59.50 and suits for around $395.

Setola said Graham’s challenge since creating his brand in 2014 has been having the financing and infrastructure necessary to grow the label. With Tharanco now on board, Graham will concentrate on “the front end” and will handle the marketing and creative, while Tharanco takes care of the back end.

Setola said Tharanco has “an aggressive plan” to expand the brand and will help facilitate the signing of a couple of new licenses and work to take the brand to countries outside the U.S.

“My goal when I started this brand has always been to create a new global American men’s wear brand and deliver a fresh perspective to the market that wasn’t being addressed,” Graham said. “We have grown the brand in a challenging retail environment, I know with Tharanco’s expertise we can escalate the growth even more rapidly. And as I always say, ‘When the going gets tough, the tough dress up.’”

He said he first met Setola around 20 years ago — “He was my first children’s wear license for Joe Boxer,” he said — and “his experience and relationship will give me the runway I need to take this brand forward. Tharanco is really strong in manufacturing and distribution.”

Graham said he’d like to expand the brand’s outerwear offering, go into sportswear and is looking to add hosiery, small leather goods and fragrance. And he expects the Far East, particularly China, Japan and Korea, to be strong potential markets for expansion. He said his biannual fashion shows are generally well received in those countries.

Graham, who is known for his sense of humor and irreverent take on fashion, sold a 51 percent stake in NGX to Iconix in 2014. Iconix has owned the Joe Boxer brand since 2005.

Iconix has systematically been revamping its portfolio, divesting itself of several properties, including “Peanuts” and “Strawberry Shortcake,” which it sold to DHZ Media Ltd. for $345 million in May. At the time, John Haugh, ceo, said: “One of our strategic objectives has been to de-lever and strengthen our balance sheet. This sale aligns with this objective.”

In December, it also sold Sharper Image for $100 million. Terms of the Nick Graham deal were not disclosed, although Iconix will report earnings on Wednesday.

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