It's the beginning of yet another new chapter for Proenza Schouler and its founding designers Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez. With help from a new group of private investors, they've bought back their company from Castanea Partners, to whom they sold a minority stake in 2015, as well as a group of investors including John Howard and Andrew Rosen.
Per a press release sent out Monday morning, the buyback coincides with a "significant" new round of funding to fuel the company's growth. It also coincides with an equally significant shakeup of Proenza Schouler's senior executive team: Former CEO Judd Crane is stepping down to be replaced by Kay Hong, who comes from Torrid, effective Monday. Former CFO John Paolicelli is also stepping down, to be replaced in the interim by Jonathan Friedman, who already had a consulting role with the company. Finally, Mary Wang will join as Chief Operating Officer. She was most recently Executive Vice President at Alexander Wang (there is no relation) and previously spent 20 years at Donna Karan. The company has elected a new board of directors, too.
But back to the new money the company has raised. Per the release, the brand plans to "refocus the company around their original vision," using the capital to expand globally as well as support licensing partners L'Oreal Luxe — with whom it launched a new fragrance, Arizona, this year — and Onward Luxury Group S.p.A.
"We are thrilled to embark on this new, very exciting chapter of Proenza Schouler and are delighted about the team of industry leaders we have assembled who, together with us, will help drive the business to its full potential," said McCollough and Hernandez in a join statement. "We couldn't be happier to have Kay, Mary and Jon by our side and to once again have full authority over our company's destiny."
It's undoubtedly an exciting moment for them as their brand has changed hands a few times in its 18-year lifespan. Valentino Fashion Group purchased a 45 percent stake in Proenza for $3.7 million in 2007. VFG was then bought buy London-based mergers and acquisitions firm Permira. In 2011, Permira's stake was sold to a group of investors led by Rosen. Rumors that LVMH planned to acquire a stake in Proenza popped up throughout the years but nothing came of them. Through it all, the brand has remained a relevant, buzzy industry favorite, recently making headlines for experimenting with showing collections at different times and in different cities, as well as developing a casual, streetwear-inspired sister line of basics called PSWL. It will be interesting to see how it evolves now that the designers have more control — especially in today's landscape, when many designers are rewriting the rules of how a label should operate.