Details of the deal could not be learned at press time, but sources said executives from both companies were signing an agreement late Monday.
Sean John designer Sean “P. Diddy” Combs has made clear his ambitions to become a major force in the apparel industry ever since he swaggered onto the fashion map six years ago, creating a streetwear brand that quickly transcended the boundaries of urban retailing to become one with designer panache, complete with a succession of over-the-top runway shows. Last fall, Combs signed a deal with Los Angeles billionaire Ron Burkle, managing partner of private equity firm The Yucaipa Cos., for an estimated $100 million investment to fuel Sean John’s retail expansion. Some also saw the deal as potentially reflective of a plan to expand through acquisitions.
In this case, it appears that Combs is teaming up with a designer prodigy whom he has admired since Posen debuted on the scene in 2001. Sean John is expected to make a long-term investment in the growth of the Zac Posen label through the younger designer’s holding company, Outspoke LLC, which is based in TriBeCa here. The companies will remain equal partners, with Posen retaining creative autonomy while using Sean John’s capital and infrastructure to grow his business and expand into other categories.
Given his age, 23, Posen might seem an unlikely acquisition target, but sources said he has been actively pursued by other potential investors. Posen wasn’t willing to strike a deal that would cede control of his signature company, however, and has managed to continue to grow strongly and maintain an impressively staffed studio through family investments. His mother, Susan Posen, and sister, Alexandra Posen, both are seriously involved in the business.
Since its debut, Posen’s collection has grown considerably in its retail presence and is carried at Barneys New York, Bergdorf Goodman, Bloomingdale’s, Bagutta and Jeffrey New York in Manhattan alone, plus in Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue stores around the country and in specialty stores in nine other countries. His trunk shows have been strong nationwide, with recent events at Neiman Marcus in Los Angeles and Dallas garnering more than $100,000 each within a couple of hours.