New York - Sandbridge Hill Capital, the private equity firm associated with Tommy Hilfiger, has acquired a majority stake in Thom Browne New York from Japan's Stripe International, formerly the Cross Company. Cross became involved with the company in 2009. They originally took a 20 percent stake in the company, but upped it to 67 percent controlling interest last year.

Sandbridge Hill Capital was formed in 2012 with the involvement of multiple fashion industry power players including Tommy Hilfiger and former Gucci Group chief executive officer Domenico De Sole, both of whom are senior advisors at the firm. Sandbridge has stake in top brands such as Karl Lagerfeld, Derek Lam, Tamara Mellon, and Topshop. De Sole and Hifliger are both expected to be involved with Thom Browne. Hilfiger's investment is in no way connected with PVH Corp., which owns the Tommy Hilfiger brand.

While the exact terms of the deal were not disclosed, Sandbridge acquired the majority of Stripe's stake. The latter mentioned company will still retain a minority holding in Thom Browne New York. Browne did not sell any shares in the transaction, which will close at the end of this month.

Currently, Brown's label is split 65 to 35 between men's and women's, with 172 men's distribution points of sale and 78 for women. They have 14 shop-in-shops in luxury department stores including Bergdorf Goodman, Dover Street Market, Selfridges, and Le Bon Marche just to name a few. In addition, they have three standalone stores in New York, Tokyo, and Hong Kong.

Sandbridge Hill Capital is Thom Browne's new majority investor

Browne launched his label in 2001, and came to critical acclaim thanks to his offerings like disproportionate suits with cropped pants and shrunken jackets. Celebrities like musician Pharrell Williams have been known to wear his designs on the red carpet. Browne is also known for rarely appearing in public without one of his signature suits on and asks that his employees do the same while they are on the clock.

In 2011, Browne launched his women's collection which was met with skepticism, but it quickly won over the hearts of the fashion industry.

“Thom is a singular talent in the fashion industry,” Ken Suslow, managing partner at Sandbridge, told WWD. “He’s been on our radar for quite some time now. We really believe in him and trust him in a way that’s really important when you’re taking a majority stake in his business. He’s one of the few designers with a deep vision that we believe in.”

Suslow hasn't announced a specific strategy for Thom Browne's expansion, but they plan on expanding their retail and wholesale network in the U.S., Europe, and Asia, as well as looking for more opportunities in e-commerce and licensing.

Source:     Photo: