Bryan Bradley Sells Stake in Tuleh to Trilea, David Shelsky

The past two years have seen quite a lot of changes for Bryan Bradley.

Bryan Bradley

Bryan Bradley


NEW YORK — The past two years have seen quite a lot of changes for Bryan Bradley. The Tuleh designer met his personal and professional match with Marco Cattoretti, moved to the Upper East Side after bunking in the back of Tuleh's Chrystie Street atelier for years, and tried his hand at lower-priced fashion with the Bryan by Bryan Bradley line for Lord & Taylor — all while facing the financial challenges of any young, independent designer business.

Ten years after the brand was founded, Bradley and Cattoretti, who serves as the company's president, on Wednesday finalized a deal to start a new chapter. They sold a 49 percent stake in Tuleh to private equity firm Trilea Partners and David Shelsky, the fashion veteran who is perhaps best known for founding the Cousin Johnny contemporary business, which he recently sold. Shelsky also has been appointed chief executive officer of the fashion house.

"At a certain point, in order to build a viable, stable and competitive fashion company, there needs to be structure, and investment funds available when you need them," said Bradley, sitting in his First Street space, which he often uses for parties. (For a glimpse of Tuleh's resort collection, see page 16.)

The designer said that, over the past few years, he has met several potential investors, but he was always reluctant to sell a majority stake for fear of losing creative control, citing cases such as Helmut Lang and Jil Sander as deals gone sour.

Besides a personal sympathy with his new partners, Bradley said he was particularly drawn to Mark Friedman, a co-founder and painter of Trilea, and Shelsky because they grasped the Tuleh concept from the get-go. "They understood what Tuleh can be and that it can be reached in stages," he said.

Shelsky recalled running into his friend Marni Sherman, Trilea's other co-founder, on Broadway, who introduced him to Friedman, and together they decided to invest in small companies like Tuleh.

"When we were introduced to Tuleh through a mutual friend, I was blown away," Shelsky said. "Marco showed me the whole collection, and I thought, this is the kind of company I would love to work with."
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