InterLuxe acquires stake in fashion brand Jason Wu

New York-based fashion brand Jason Wu has received an undisclosed investment from InterLuxe, a platform that seeks to invest in emerging fashion and luxury brands. Lee Equity Partners teamed up with Allen Questrom, Gary Wassner, and Melissa Beste to launch InterLuxe.


NEW YORK, Sept. 5, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — New York-based private equity firm Lee Equity Partners, together with fashion industry veterans Allen Questrom, Gary Wassner, and Melissa Beste, have launched InterLuxe, a platform to invest in growing, high potential fashion and luxury brands and support them with infrastructure, capital, and business resources to accelerate growth. InterLuxe’s day-to-day management will be led by Melissa Beste, a luxury apparel and retail leader, as CEO, and Cliff Moskowitz, an experienced private equity and finance executive, as President. InterLuxe will invest in emerging fashion and luxury brands with leading design talent, a strong customer following, and proven sales momentum. InterLuxe aims to accelerate brand growth across distribution channels by solving internal resource and capital constraints and allowing talented design teams to focus on products and merchandising.

Allen Questrom, a Senior Advisor to Lee Equity and Director of InterLuxe, is the former CEO of Neiman Marcus, Inc., Barneys New York, Inc., Federated Department Stores, Inc., and J.C. Penney Company, Inc. Gary Wassner, Chairman of InterLuxe, has advised and financed emerging fashion brands for over 35 years as co-CEO of Hilldun Corporation, the leading provider of financing services to emerging fashion brands in the United States. Melissa Beste, CEO of InterLuxe, will lead management and operations across all InterLuxe brands. Ms. Beste joins InterLuxe from Swiss fashion brand Akris, where she was CEO of North America and the United Kingdom. She was previously President of Americas for Alexander McQueen and began her career in luxury retailing at Neiman Marcus, Marshall Field’s, and Saks Fifth Avenue.

InterLuxe has made its first investment in the growing New York-based fashion brand Jason Wu, whose luxury clothing and accessories are distributed globally through high-end retailers and online stores. Chief Creative Officer Jason Wu is widely viewed as a leading talent in the next generation of American designers and is well known for designing dresses for high profile clients, including both inauguration ball dresses for First Lady Michelle Obama. Mr. Wu also currently serves as Artistic Director of womenswear for Hugo Boss AG. Terms of the deal are not being disclosed.

Mr. Wu said, “I have been approached by numerous investors and strategic partners over the years, but none offered the strategic value-add and resources that InterLuxe brings. Gary Wassner has been a close friend and advisor to my brand for many years, and I am thrilled to partner with Allen Questrom and Melissa Beste, who each bring extensive senior leadership experience. I am looking forward to working with the InterLuxe team to expand my collection and elevate the Jason Wu brand to the next level both in the U.S. and abroad.”

Allen Questrom said, “Jason Wu represents the next generation of great American designers. He has shown impressive design versatility and success across a range of styles and price points, including his high-end collection line, lower-price limited-time collaborations with Nordstrom and Target, and more recently a revitalized womenswear line for Hugo Boss. Jason has a very bright future ahead of him, and Lee Equity and InterLuxe feel fortunate to have the opportunity to support and participate in his continued growth and success.”

Gary Wassner said, “The decision to partner with the dynamic and talented team at Lee Equity to launch InterLuxe was an easy one to make. I have been impressed with Lee Equity Partners’ proven track record of growing brands and the creative genius of Jason Wu as a designer. The InterLuxe team will provide the highest caliber of expertise to the brands we invest in so they can develop to their fullest potential. Jason Wu is one of the brightest stars in the fashion industry today. I’ve had the pleasure of watching and helping him grow over the course of his career, and I am looking forward to this new chapter of our partnership together.”

Thomas H. Lee, President of Lee Equity Partners, said that his organization was excited to announce the launch of the InterLuxe platform and its first investment in Jason Wu. “We believe InterLuxe represents the ideal partner for growing fashion brands such as Jason Wu. Jason Wu has achieved global success with limited outside capital or strategic support to date. We are excited about accelerating his growth trajectory by combining Jason’s incredible talent with the expertise, experience, and capital of InterLuxe and Lee Equity.Jason Wu is the first of multiple investments that Lee Equity will support through the InterLuxe platform.”

Mr. Lee has been involved in a number of high growth consumer-oriented acquisitions, including Snapple Beverage Corp., General Nutrition Companies, PETCO Animal Supplies, Inc., Ghirardelli Holdings Corp., Banana Boat, and Papa Murphy’s Holdings, Inc., among others.

Jones Day and Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP served as legal advisors to InterLuxe and Lee Equity. StoneCastle Securities, LLC served as exclusive placement agent to InterLuxe.

Troutman Sanders LLP served as legal advisor to Jason Wu.

About Lee Equity Partners
Lee Equity Partners is a New York based private equity firm that seeks to partner with top-tier management teams to build companies with high growth potential. Lee Equity makes private equity investments in growth oriented, mid and large cap companies located primarily in the United States. Lee Equity’s target market includes companies with enterprise values of between $100 million and $5 billion. Lee Equity seeks to invest in businesses with sustainable competitive positions, sufficient scale to attract high quality management and the ability to demonstrate continued growth. Lee Equity is a generalist firm whose professionals have significant expertise in a number of industries, including Financial, Healthcare and Business Services, Retail and Consumer Products and Media.

About InterLuxe
InterLuxe is a New York based brand platform firm that seeks to partner with growing, high potential fashion and luxury brands. InterLuxe was founded by Gary Wassner, who serves as Chairman of InterLuxe, and Cliff Moskowitz, who serves as President of InterLuxe. Gary Wassner has advised and financed emerging fashion brands for over 35 years as co-CEO of Hilldun Corporation, the leading provider of financing services to emerging fashion brands in the United States. Cliff Moskowitz has prior investing and operating experience in the private equity industry. Management and operations of InterLuxe are led by CEO Melissa Beste, a veteran fashion executive with prior leadership experience at Akris, Alexander McQueen, and Saks Fifth Avenue.