L Catterton Asia leads investor base to invest in Gentle Monster

L Catterton Asia is leading a consortium to invest in South Korea-based Gentle Monster, an eyewear designer brand. Groupe Arnault is also participating in this investor group. No financial terms were disclosed.

PRESS RELEASE

SINGAPORE and SEOUL, South Korea, Sept. 7, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — L Catterton Asia, the Asian unit of the largest and most global consumer-focused private equity firm in the world, is pleased to announce a new partnership with IICOMBINED, the owner and operator of Gentle Monster, the leading global eyewear designer brand. L Catterton Asia leads a consortium including Groupe Arnault in the Gentle Monster investment.

Founded in 2011 by Jay Oh and Hankook Kim, Gentle Monster has become the most sought after global fashion eyewear brand, known for its avant-garde designs and creative retail concept. Gentle Monster is now a global leader in the sunglass category, with a presence in more than 19 countries and 11 stand-alone stores around the world. Each flagship store has a different design theme with a unique “WOW” factor, creating strong brand awareness among consumers.

Kim Hankook, Co-Founder and CEO of Gentle Monster, stated: “In a time where Gentle Monster is progressing into a global fashion eyewear brand, we are honored to partner with L Catterton Asia and Groupe Arnault. Gentle Monster has a very unique approach in terms of product and space design. We define it as ‘weird beauty,’ a concept that is infused and brought to life in everything we do. We lead the industry and consumer trend through this vision. We already have a presence in Greater China and America and plan to further expand our footprint into Europe and the Middle East. Our goal is to reach even more international consumers, offer them our distinctive products and flagship experiences and continue to inspire them by conveying our unique approach to building the future of retail.”

Commenting on the transaction, Chairman and Managing Partner of L Catterton Asia, Ravi Thakran, stated: “We are delighted to partner with the founders of Gentle Monster, a fashion sunglass category leader in Korea. With its strong brand identity and creative designs, Gentle Monster is an emerging company that is redefining the sunglasses-design space with the potential to become a truly iconic brand. Gentle Monster is already outselling more established competitors, delivering retail productivity on par with or better than many luxury brands. Given the relatively low penetration rates for sunglasses across most Asian markets, and Gentle Monster’s success in addressing the unique needs of Asian consumers, we see strong growth potential for the Company. We look forward to working alongside Gentle Monster’s strong management team to support the Company’s growth and expansion, and believe that L Catterton Asia’s extensive global network and retail expertise will provide valuable insights on brand building, marketing, retail excellence and global store expansion.”

About L Catterton Asia
With over $14 billion of equity capital across six fund strategies in 17 offices globally, L Catterton is the largest consumer-focused private equity firm in the world. L Catterton’s team of more than 140 investment and operating professionals partners with management teams around the world to implement strategic plans to foster growth, leveraging deep category insight, operational excellence, and a broad thought partnership network. Since 1989, the firm has made over 150 investments in leading consumer brands. L Catterton was formed through the partnership of Catterton, LVMH and Groupe Arnault. For more information about L Catterton, please visit lcatterton.com.

L Catterton Asia (previously known as L Capital Asia) was launched in 2009, and manages over US$ 1.6 billion across two private equity funds, and over US$ 2 billion including co-investments. It has offices in Singapore and Mauritius, with further regional advisory presence in Hong Kong, Mumbai, Shanghai and Sydney. L Catterton Asia invests in select consumer lifestyle businesses that will benefit from growing discretionary consumption in Asian markets. L Catterton Asia leverages its strategic relationship with LVMH and Groupe Arnault across the entire investment process, from proprietary deal origination and industry-specific due diligence to post-investment operational value-add to its portfolio companies. L Catterton Asia’s investments include: Trendy International, Pepe Jeans, Crystal Jade, Clio Cosmetics and YG Entertainment—which is behind famous Korean singers and entertainers such as PSY and Big Bang.

About Gentle Monster (IICOMBINED)
Gentle Monster, founded in 2011 by Jay Oh and Hankook Kim, is a luxury eyewear brand based in Seoul Korea, operating under a unique philosophy and perspective, devoted towards a vision of “weird beauty” through “high-end experimentation”.

While Hankook has been driving the creative side of the business, Jay has provided business insight to ensure the company maintains sustainable growth. Under their leadership, the company grew dramatically and Gentle Monster is the only Korean eyewear brand to have successfully gone global, offering fashion-leading products and providing a unique shopping experience through its artistic retail space.

Gentle Monster is sold through 31 direct stores (6 flagship stores, 19 stores in department stores, 6 duty free shops) and 130 optical stores in Korea. Since 2013, with the cool appeal from celebrities wearing the products, the popularity of the brand has expanded beyond Korea. The brand reached global status through the help of unique brands and designers such as Hood By Air, Henrik Vibskov, and Opening Ceremony, while also creatively collaborating with Tilda Swinton.

The brand can be found in over 160 POS in 19 countries, including 6 overseas flagship stores in New York, Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu and Hong Kong and leading fashion retailers such as Opening Ceremony, Dover St. and Beakers, with the next new flagship store opening in the ION Mall, Singapore in September 2017. The company is also globally available through its brand site, gentlemonster.com.