Maison Kitsuné Invites Connor McKnight to Kitsuné Ventures – WWD

Maison Kitsuné has launched a new investment arm called Kitsuné Ventures, which specializes in early-stage investing, and on Monday unveiled its first investment in Brooklyn-based fashion label Connor McKnight.

Under the investment, Kitsuné will help McKnight with the logistics, distribution and accounting for his brand, and the designer will retain 100% ownership of his company. McKnight says that, as the relationship continues, they will discuss partial ownership of the brand, and Kitsuné will have the right of first refusal, meaning it could be suitable for any outside investment. offered by McKnight.

“I feel like this is a unicorn,” said McKnight, who worked at Kith and Bode before launching the eponymous brand. “I had a business background and attended an undergraduate business school, but I ended up becoming a designer. I think about these things on a regular basis. There is a degree of trust and understanding. This feels like a no-brainer. “

McKnight reached out to Kitsuné co-founder Gildas Loaëc and Kitsuné US General Manager Vinod Kasturi in 2020 during the pandemic simply to seek advice on launching his label, which he did. worked last year with unemployment money. Loaëc and Kasturi officially invested in the brand in April 2021, helping with the first Connor McKnight fashion show in September during New York Fashion Week.

McKnight will also fund to grow its team.

“Last season, I did too much on my own,” he said. “It’s important to learn and experience things, and delegating becomes easier when you have firsthand experience. Last season, I showed more silhouettes and I want to continue to develop what I have. It won’t be like my collection was created during the pandemic when it was just me and a sewing machine. It won’t be like that anymore.”

Loaë sees the new investment arm as a way for Kitsuné to stay connected with creativity and innovation, but doing so in a new way speaks to the maturity of the brand. Kitsuné will be in business for 20 years next year and will open new stores in Brooklyn, in early 2022, as well as in Los Angeles and Vancouver, according to Loaëc.

“We are still moving in a positive direction, but we want to keep the brand on a certain scale,” Loaëc said. “We will probably have 10 to 15 stores in the next month. We don’t think every brand should be big so we’re driving and controlling the growth. We’ve had steady growth for a few years and we’re growing 40% per year. Even this year, we will grow 50%.

“We have worked for 20 years to establish a solid base. We have a strong network in China, Korea, Japan, Southeast Asia, we feel we are in a good position. Overall, we’re pretty lucky. ”

Kasturi said the establishment of the investment branch came about organically, like the history of Kitsuné. Loaëc and brand co-founder Masaya Kuroki ventured into the fashion industry amid Loaëc’s musical career as a producer, where he has collaborated with a wide range of talents. “It’s also a kind of partnership,” Loaëc said, recalling how important the first source of capital was to start a company.

“We weren’t thinking of investing in Connor, but a major problem he had was having a little cash to grow and work on. So this is a natural thing,” Loaëc said. “It’s important to us to help Connor keep his name. There are a lot of founders who got lost along the way, so we tried to help.”

He’s also excited to share his Rolodex with McKnight to help emerging talent build relationships and lay the groundwork for long-term success.

“Above all this is to share and expand with him, and help with logistics, logistics, accounting, introduce him to some buyers in the territories, help with the network our grid for Connor to introduce his brand to a wider audience and give him the coverage to build his vision,” says Speaker

There is potential for a capsule collection in the future. “I think it was discussed on the table and the liquid,” Kasturi said. “Talking about the deal, we said it would be great to have the ability to design a capsule, but we wanted to put Connor at the forefront of the deal. We don’t want to overshadow what he does in any way. We were also thinking about the corporate footprint and thought we could help? “

Kasturi suggests carrying McKnight’s branding in Kitsuné stores or sharing wholesale spaces. “He is in the critical phase of establishing his brand identity,” he added. Maison Kitsuné Invites Connor McKnight to Kitsuné Ventures – WWD


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