High-End Fashion Lures Equity Firms

by Sarah Clark
Fashion School Review Columnist

April 4, 2007

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Since Gucci's hugely successful financial turnaround, private equity firms have begun pouring money into investments they once deemed too risky--luxury fashion brands. What does this mean for the fashion designers that work for them?

The Wall Street Journal recently reported about a new investment garnering favor among private equity firms - brands like Citizens of Humanity, in which Berkshire Partners holds a stake, and Jimmy Choo, the shoe brand that was recently financially endowed by another firm. Why all the sudden interest in fashion on Wall Street?

Wall Street Woos High Style
The Journal reports that many luxury brands have recorded steady, strong profits and growth in recent years, resulting in equity firms' rethinking the conventional wisdom that fashion is too risky an industry to invest in.

But what will this windfall of money and oversight among equity firms do for fashion designers at the creative helms of these businesses? It's not entirely clear, but it's certain that their careers in fashion and design choices will come under greater corporate scrutiny.

Careers in Fashion Shaped by Wall Street Priorities
Generally the most profitable areas of the luxury fashion design company are their accessories and perfume. Investors will likely want to see activity in these areas, which means fashion designers may spend more time designing handbags than couture gowns.

That's probably not what earnest, hardworking fashion school students want to hear. But all is not lost - with greater access to cash, these luxury brands may have more resources to put toward expanding their creative staffs. And that's good for anyone seeking a career in high-end fashion.

And who knows? Maybe higher profits could provide more money to invest in couture creation, the fashion school designers' dream career in fashion. Couture is what keeps a fashion house relevant, desirable, and thoroughly above the fashion industry fray.

So get your fashion school degree and prepare to enter an industry that is gaining more significance among key players in the global economy.


About the Author
Sarah Clark is a freelance writer specializing in career development and postsecondary education.

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