It's been nearly a year since reports surfaced that LVMH was in talks to acquire Andrew Rosen's large minority stake in Proenza Schouler, and nothing has materialized. But now, according to WWD, another interested party has emerged.
Castanea Partners is reportedly in talks to acquire 50 percent of Proenza Schouler from Rosen (who owns about 40 percent), John Howard and and a few other investors. It would be the private equity firm's first foray into the luxury market. According to Castanea's website, the firm focuses on mid-market consumer brands and retailers as well as marketing services companies, investing between $15 million and $75 million in those businesses. Its current portfolio includes blowout salon chain Drybar, jewelry label Ippolita and home goods company Aurora Brands.
A rep for Proenza Schouler did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Rosen reportedly wants to divest his stake in order to focus on his strong roster of contemporary brands, including Theory, Helmut Lang and J Brand. He purchased his stake in 2011 from London-based private equity firm Permira, which had come to own that much of Proenza via its controlling interest in the Valentino Fashion Group, which invested in the New York label in 2007.
Castanea would not seem as natural a fit for Proenza as LVMH, which has been showing interest in young, buzzy designers at the luxury level in recent years, taking a minority stake in J.W. Anderson in 2013 and inaugurating the LVMH Prize for young designers in 2014. That said, it has been particular about its investments, pulling out of a deal with young French couturier Maxime Simoens earlier this year. Perhaps Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez's reluctance to design for another brand — they said during a recent talk that they've declined multiple offers — had something to do with that deal not coming to fruition.