Star Avenue Capital has purchased a majority interest in J Brand, a premium denim company. Star Avenue Capital is a Los Angeles-based consumer growth equity vehicle formed in partnership with buyout firm Irving Place Capital and entertainment and sports agency Creative Artists Agency (CAA).
J Brand, a rapidly growing premium denim company, announced today a strategic investment by Star Avenue Capital, LLC (Star). Star has acquired a majority interest in J Brand and will partner with J Brand’s management team to provide strategic resources to support the company’s growth. Jeff Rudes, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, and Albert Schami, Chief Operating Officer, will continue to serve in their current roles and maintain substantial ownership stakes in the company.
“Star Avenue Capital is pleased to partner with Jeff and his talented management team to strategically support J Brand’s business and to bring it to the next level in the premium denim category,” said Mark Genender, Star Avenue Capital’s Managing Director. “Star was created to invest in growing branded businesses at J Brand’s stage of development and to assist them in executing upon and realizing the many attractive opportunities in front of them.”
Star, based in Los Angeles, is a consumer growth equity vehicle recently formed in partnership with private equity firm Irving Place Capital and leading entertainment and sports agency Creative Artists Agency (CAA). “We have direct access to CAA’s extensive resources and expertise across multiple functional areas including marketing, branding, lifestyle and consumer research, as well as access to Irving Place Capital and its relevant investment experience with consumer and retail companies,” added Mr. Genender. “We are confident that J Brand’s ongoing commitment to its product and customers, coupled with Star’s differentiated approach, will result in a long and successful partnership.”
Headquartered in Los Angeles, J Brand was founded in 2005 by Jeff Rudes and Susie Crippen, and experienced immediate success through the introduction of its women’s skinny jean. The company has since become a leading premium denim brand, both domestically and abroad. J Brand is featured at specialty stores and luxury retailers – in the U.S. (Barneys New York, Bergdorf Goodman, Jeffrey and Ron Herman), London (Harvey Nichols and Selfridges), Paris (Le Bon Marche), Milan (Biffi), and Moscow (Tsum), among others. Upon the closing of the transaction, Susie Crippen, Creative Director, will be leaving the company to pursue other endeavors. The Company’s experienced and talented creative marketing team will remain in place.
Mr. Rudes said, “We are very excited about the partnership with Star Avenue Capital and the strategic resources it will provide J Brand as we grow the business further and expand into new categories. Star, CAA and Irving Place Capital understand our core values and the importance of product quality, fit and innovative design. All three partners bring unique expertise and their ongoing involvement will be critical to our continued success.”
“From the day we started with J Brand, it has been one of the top performing brands in premium denim, and in the store, for that matter,” said Frank Doroff, Vice Chairman of Bloomingdales. “Our customers had an immediate positive response to the product. We just finished the fall 2009 season, and J Brand’s business continues to grow and prosper.”
J Brand represents Star’s first investment. Star was formed to invest in up-and-coming consumer branded businesses to which the collective Star partnership would bring strategic value. Star’s investment in J Brand was funded by a group of third-party strategic and institutional investors, including a co-investment by private equity firm Genuity Capital Partners. In conjunction with Star’s investment, Peter Boneparth, a senior advisor to Irving Place Capital and the former CEO of Jones Apparel Group, will become Chairman of J Brand. The Star venture and partnership with CAA enhances Irving Place Capital’s already strong consumer and retail franchise.
Terence Bogan, Vice President, Divisional Merchandising Manager for Women’s CO-OP at Barneys, commented, “We are very gratified by the business Barneys has developed with J Brand over the years. Jeff and his J Brand team have given Barneys the ability to offer our clients the best assortment of product available in the marketplace. Through a challenging economic climate, J Brand continues to exceed sales expectations. We look forward to our continued success in building an increasingly meaningful J Brand business.”
The Sage Group, LLC acted as the exclusive financial advisor and Proskauer Rose LLP acted as counsel for J Brand. Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s Global Commercial Banking Group provided the acquisition and working capital financing. Star was represented by Kirkland & Ellis LLP’s Los Angeles office.
About J Brand
J Brand creates classic and sophisticated jeans with an emphasis on fit, while holding true to its commitment to deliver timeless product. Since its inception, J Brand has consistently introduced new styles, which have been extraordinarily popular with celebrities and leading fashion editors. In the fall of 2008, the J Brand men’s line was introduced, reflecting modern classics with a masculine sensibility. In 2009, J Brand collaborated with famed designer Hussein Chalayan to create a collection of unique denim pieces that were featured in his Paris runway show. Having achieved significant sales growth over the past five years, the brand has become known as an industry leader. For more information, please visit www.jbrandjeans.com.
About Star Avenue Capital
Star Avenue Capital is an innovative middle-market growth equity vehicle established in conjunction with Irving Place Capital and Creative Artists Agency to invest in up-and-coming consumer and retail brands and concepts to which its unique combination of resources can add significant value. J Brand represents Star’s first investment. Star is led by Mark Genender, an experienced private equity investor with a proven track record of creating value for consumer and retail companies.
About Irving Place Capital
Irving Place Capital invests private equity capital in compelling buyouts, recapitalizations and growth capital opportunities alongside superior management teams. Irving Place Capital focuses on making control or entrepreneur-driven investments. Since its formation in 1997, Irving Place Capital has been an investor in 68 portfolio companies, and manages over $4 billion of equity capital, including its current $2.7 billion institutional fund. The firm’s notable retail and apparel investments have included, Aéropostale, New York & Company, Seven for All Mankind, Stuart Weitzman and The Vitamin Shoppe. More information about Irving Place Capital is available at www.irvingplacecapital.com.
About Creative Artists Agency
Creative Artists Agency is the world’s leading talent agency, representing many of the most successful professionals working in film, television, music, video games, theatre, and the Internet, and provides a range of strategic marketing and consulting services to corporate clients. CAA is also a leader in sports, representing more than 500 of the world’s top athletes in football, baseball, basketball, hockey, soccer, tennis, and golf, and works in the areas of broadcast rights, corporate marketing initiatives, licensing, and sports properties for sales/sponsorship opportunities. In addition, The Intelligence Group, a market research and trend forecasting company, is a division of CAA.