By Jean E. Palmieri. Source: WWD.
L Catterton, the private equity arm of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, is extending its reach in the active arena with a “significant growth investment” in Rhone, a men’s activewear brand.
The size of the investment from L Catterton’s Growth Fund was not disclosed.
L Catterton was formed in 2016 as a partnership between Catterton, LVMH and Groupe Arnault and is the largest consumer-focused private-equity firm in the world, with 17 offices across five continents. It has investments in Peloton, CorePower Yoga, Sweaty Betty, 2XU, Gant, Pepe Jeans, Sandro and Maje, Hackett and Emperor Watch and Jewellery, among others.
“Rhone represents a compelling opportunity to invest in a differentiated and on-trend concept within men’s activewear, a large and growing category,” said Jon Owsley, co-managing partner of L Catterton Growth Fund. “We seek companies in great trend areas with consumer appeal. Rhone is very well positioned to ride the wave of what’s happening in men’s apparel. It has all the technical aspects of fitness wear but designed with an eye for regular wear.”
He pointed to the company’s commuter pant as an example, saying that while a man may wear it to ride a bike to work, it looks good enough to keep on all day.
The brand’s GoldFusion technology, which it introduced last year, is also seen as a “potentially revolutionary fabric in the men’s wear space,” he said. The technology infuses gold particles into the brand’s highest-performing fabrics, resulting in a softer, safer, faster-drying, longer-lasting, odor-neutralizing garment, according to the company.
Owsley said he expects Rhone to use the additional capital as well as L Catterton’s resources to expand its digital offering, wholesale presence and build brand awareness.
Rhone was founded in 2014 to appeal to men seeking active apparel that was not an afterthought to women’s wear or so full of “bravado and chest-pounding” that the marketing overshadowed the merchandise.
It is carried in more than 400 doors, including Bloomingdale’s, REI and Equinox and offers shorts, pants, long- and short-sleeved tops, socks, hats, gloves and other accessories. Its assortment is centered around comfortable, innovative fabrics such as GoldFusion. The company has one store at Chelsea Piers in Connecticut.
“Given their strong retail expertise, significant history working with leading health and wellness brands and deep knowledge of the active consumer, L Catterton is the ideal partner to help us take the Rhone brand to the next level,” said Nate Checketts, cofounder and chief executive officer. He said the company will use the investment to improve its supply chain, continue to seek out innovative fabrics and increase the name recognition of the brand.
Opening stores is also in the cards, he said, adding that the brand would like to add two locations this year, with New York at the top of the list.
Checketts said before negotiating the L Catterton investment, Rhone had received an acquisition offer, but turned it down. “We built Rhone to be better, not to be squeezed by a larger company for profits. That’s why we’re so excited about L Catterton. They know brands and they know health and wellness.”
Rhone has attracted several investors since it launched. In 2015, the brand closed on a $5 million Series A round of financing, bringing the total amount raised to $6.2 million. Prior investors include Steve Bornstein, former president and chief executive officer of the NFL Network and former chairman, president and ceo of ESPN; David Stern, NBA Commissioner Emeritus; Ryen Russillo, host of ESPN Radio’s Russillo & Kanell; Shane Battier, former NBA player, and M3 Ventures, an investment fund managed by former CAA executive Martin Dolfi.