NEW YORK — Steven Alan has big plans for the future — and he’s looking for an investor to help him get to the next level.
This story first appeared in the April 6, 2015 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The designer has hired Financo to find a backer for his brand, WWD has learned. Reached at his headquarters here, Alan said he has no plans to sell his company but engaged the investment bank “to put together a book. We haven’t spoken to any potential parties yet,” he said, “but we’re thinking about what strategy we should take to grow the company.”
Alan currently has 22 stores in the U.S. as well as four that he operates in Japan with United Arrows. The Steven Alan brand is sold in more than 100 stores worldwide. In addition to his own label, which he launched in 1999, Alan operates showrooms in New York and Los Angeles that represent 15 other designers of apparel, handbags and accessories. Many of these brands are also carried in the Steven Alan stores, he said, although the vast majority of the merchandise in those stores is his own label.
“We want to grow as responsibly as we can and not bite off more than we can chew,” Alan said, explaining why he is seeking a financial infusion.
Right now, Alan said he has one minority investor: Tom Kartsotis, the founder of Fossil and owner of Shinola, as well as the founder of Bedrock Manufacturing, a private equity and brand-management firm.
Gilbert Harrison, chairman of Financo, said the process is just starting, but that he is confident about the marketability of the brand. “Steven Alan has done a phenomenal job in building his business and the whole purpose of working with him is to find the right partner to take it to the next level,” he said.
There is a large amount of private equity money available from companies searching for viable fashion brands that can be expanded both domestically and internationally and, now that the U.S. economy is recovering, investors are eager to put those funds to use. Alan, who has become known for his Reverse Seam Shirt, offers primarily casual apparel and accessories for men and women. The brand has a reported volume of around $35 million.
The designer said his goal is to “keep getting better,” a process he views as “multifaceted.” In addition to cash, he is searching for someone who can “provide the greatest value.” Much of that will be on the “operational” level. He said the company would be well served by adding a head of marketing as well as some other support staff. “So putting together this plan is very helpful to articulate the areas where we think we can grow and flesh out our business plan,” he said.
Since he is hoping to expand outside and inside the U.S., he said that “requires a deeper understanding of the European market and the rules and regulations there.”
“And on the showroom side, we represent different designers and I have personally invested in several brands, including Clare Vivier, Marissa Webb and Mollusk with Bedrock. And then there’s our own brand. In the beginning, it was mostly shirts, now it’s men’s, women’s, kids, accessories — everything. It’s difficult to do all of this without scale. So we’re looking at how to grow smartly and go into categories where we can be best of class.”
Alan believes “knits are the future” for his brand, along with outerwear and accessories such as shoes and bags.
“And from an international standpoint, we’d like to expand to Canada, Europe and Australia,” he continued. “We want to continue to work with United Arrows and hopefully open more stores there” while growing into other markets in that region.
Alan said he is still “exploring” what type of company he hopes to attract — a strategic partner, a private equity investor or a minority partner. But whatever form the investor takes, he stressed that he will remain the majority owner.