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Fashion Brand Ami Takes On Sequoia China Capital as Investor

Alexandre Mattiussi has new friends in Beijing: Sequoia Capital China has taken a majority stake in his 10-year-old fashion brand Ami Paris, WWD has learned.

Financial terms were not disclosed, but the partners said the objective is to expand Ami’s approachable, nonchalant fashions in the digital realm and with stores in new markets.

Disclosing the transaction exclusively to WWD, Ami chief executive officer Nicolas Santi-Weil said the goal was to find a partner that could help take the business to the next level while respecting its creative DNA and entrepreneurial spirit.

He lauded Sequoia’s knowledge of all things digital, the ecosystem of start-ups in China, and the IT solutions and software that are fueling the commerce of tomorrow, particularly in Asia.

Santi-Weil described the partnership as analogous to Ami’s first dealings with Farfetch some seven years ago: Aligning with a company with a different skill set, and a forward-looking vision.

WWD broke the news in January 2019 that Ami was talking to potential investors to fuel future expansion. It is understood Mattiussi and Santi-Weil, who jointly hold the remaining minority stake, held discussions with family offices, strategics and private equity funds, having mandated Clearview Partners for a potential deal.

Mattiussi, who holds the titles of president and creative director, is to maintain his artistic independence and continue refining his wardrobe-based approach to fashion, with a unique French accent.

In a Zoom call with Santi-Weil on Wednesday, Mattiussi described plans to soon open a series of pop-ups dedicated to products bearing his popular Ami de Coeur logo — a heart atop the letter “A” — which he has used to sign his doodlings since he was a child.

The plan is also to create a dedicated website for “timeless essentials” with the Ami de Coeur marking, along with a dedicated campaign and revolving artistic collaborations around this symbol of the brand’s values: friendship, optimism and inclusivity among them.

Sequoia Capital China, which also has offices in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Shenzhen, is to offer not only funds but its knowledge of technologies and retail innovations around the world, according to the partners.

“We are thrilled to partner with Ami under the leadership of Alexandre Mattiussi, one of the leading designer brands with global market presence, strong culture of creativity, and passion for digitalization,” said Neil Shen, founding and managing partner of Sequoia Capital China.

Shen called the investment “another milestone in our journey with the world’s leading companies in the luxury retail industry to help their vision in accelerating the digital transformation and penetration in local markets to the next level.”

Part of sprawling California-based venture capital firm Sequoia Capital, Sequoia Capital China focuses on the technology, media and telecom sector, consumer products and health care. Over the past 16 years it has partnered with about 600 companies in China and made investments in the likes of Alibaba, Tencent, Sina, Bytedance and

Ami Paris is its first cross-border transaction, signaling its ambition to “develop in fashion by focusing on young, creative, digital houses, imbued with storytelling and strong and authentic values ​​and with a balanced business and already well established worldwide,” Sequoia said.

Chinese investors have swooped in on a number of European fashion companies in recent years, with more nonstarters than success stories.

Santi-Weil stressed that Ami’s creative and business foundations are solid, and that Sequoia is in no rush.

According to the company, sales at Ami vaulted more than 50 percent in 2020 to about 50 million euros and its revenues are well balanced geographically. Its leading markets include the U.S., France, U.K., Italy, Germany, China and South Korea. Business powered ahead in the U.S. despite the pandemic, and flourished in China.

Asked to account for the healthy numbers amid a global health crisis, Santi-Weil credited the brand’s fair pricing, approachable styling, desirable logo and its friendly, optimistic spirit, with knitwear and jersey categories performing exceptionally well. Read from source….