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Proenza Schouler Regains Full Ownership of Company

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Exciting times are ahead for Proenza Schouler. In an official announcement by the brand, it has revealed that designers Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez have bought back their company’s shares from Castanea Partners, regaining full ownership of the label they founded once more and shaking the status quo. The help that came from investors, undisclosed by the duo, also covered the stake sold to other private investors that include Andrew Rosen and John Howard.

The move was supposedly to take full control of the direction of the company, something that many labels on Proenza Schouler’s level currently could not afford to do. And if we are going more specific, McCollough and Hernandez intend to use the funds they have accumulated to widen the brand’s reach, and along the way provide support to L’Oreal Luxe and Onward Luxury Group, which happen to be its licensing partners. The company has agreements with the former for beauty products, while the latter is for the brand’s footwear selection.

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That’s not the only news Proenza Schouler had to share—with the buy also comes new people for the label. Like its private investors who contributed to significant funding, a few names have been kept secret, although the big players were announced. Kay Hong, Jonathan Friedman, and Mary Wang will join the company to become its chief executive officer, chief financial officer, and chief operating officer, respectively.

Hong will be familiar to some for her stint at plus-size retailer Torrid as its chief executive, while Wang has been with Alexander Wang as its executive vice president of global operations (and no, she is not related to the designer Wang). Meanwhile, Jonathan Friedman comes from Ippolita as its CFO. The label also took the same direction as Proenza Schouler, taking control from Castanea Partners, although Ippolita has done it a few months earlier, with Ippolita Rostagno buying back her own brand in July. The new set of directors have been unnamed, although the brand has established that they are experienced in their own fields. The group previously included Ron Frasch and Brian Knez from Castanea Partners, Rose Marie Bravo who is formerly from Burberry, and John Howard and Andrew Rosen, who were named earlier as sometime investors of Proenza Schouler.

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The duo behind the brand is thrilled about the development, because this means that they can dictate the company’s direction without much interference from other investors. Hong, Friedman and Wang, who have taken over former CEO Judd Crane and CFO John Paolicelli, will play a significant role in making the designers’ vision come to reality. Although the label is a favorite among critics, it has suffered from the consequences of fast fashion because such labels have produced cheaper lookalikes of Proenza Schouler’s bestsellers. It is working to undo that by looking into other ventures, such as experimenting in design and presentation, and working on more accessible luxuries such as its PSWL line. The selection includes pieces that are relatively cheaper than Proenza Schouler’s current offerings, while still exhibiting the same vibe its sister company is known for

While the brand’s founders have been quoted as saying that becoming a billion-dollar brand is not their priority, it is important for any company to find itself growing through the years. Proenza Schouler has been around since 2002, and the dips have to be balanced by more milestones. McCullough and Hernandez made headlines recently for a well-received show during the latest New York Fashion Week. The past year saw the brand taking its designs to Paris, although it had a triumphant comeback to the American fashion capital this 2018.

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Image credits: Francois Durand/Getty Images, JP Yim/Getty Images, Proenza Schouler, AP


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