Oscar de la Renta — one of America’s most iconic designer labels that has dressed numerous first ladies, celebrities, socialites and been there when many brides have said “I do” — is now considering making its own connection.
Three sources said the company is working with the European investment bank Rothschild & Co., fielding interest from would-be buyers and generally testing the buyout market.
More from WWD
It is not clear that any deal will materialize out of the process.
The New York-based company is controlled by the family of the famed designer, who died in 2014 after a long battle with cancer. Gary Fuhrman’s GF Capital Management & Advisors is also an investor, taking what is believed to be a roughly 20 percent stake in 2010.
WWD could not immediately reach the brand or Fuhrman on Friday, while Rothschild declined comment.
Oscar de la Renta has long been a fixture on the New York scene and enjoys plenty of high-profile fans, including Taylor Swift, who wore a strapless, light blue floral look to the premiere of her “Eras Tour” film.
But the brand is up against mega players, like Dior and Chanel, which have outrageously deep pockets that they can use to make their impression on well-heeled consumers.
De la Renta is working with less financial backing than those brands, but lately has been able to make the best of it.
Like many others, the company had to cut its cost structure during the pandemic while sales dropped off sharply. But as COVID-19 receded and sales rebounded — revenues are said to have topped $120 million last year — the cost structure has remained lean.
That can be seen in de la Renta’s absence from the calendar for New York Fashion Week, where brands are spending big to be heard above the din. The brand has been designed by co-creative directors Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia since 2017.
The thriftier approach has helped the business operate profitably and put it in a position to test its options.
While there have been some mega-deals in fashion lately — Tapestry Inc. is expected to complete its acquisition of Capri Holdings this year and Kering recently took a 30 percent stake in Valentino — the deal market for smaller designer businesses has been spotty.
Some brands have come to market and found new investors, including Khaite, which saw Stripes buy in with some growth equity last March.
But there are plenty of other brands that have looked and not been able to make their own connections.
Best of WWD