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London-based investment firm Centricus led the latest round, which also included participation from existing backers such as New Enterprise Associates (NEA) and Paris-based Quadrille Capital. The round brings the company’s total capital raised to around $90 million, having raised an NEA-led $23.7 million Series B last May.
In a press release, the Los Angeles company – which Mellon co-founded with Jill Layfield – said it will use the fresh funds towards “manufacturing innovation, retail expansion, and continued investments in (the) brand.” It also plans to do some hiring with the goal of expanding its staff from 40 to 60 employees by year’s end.
The three-year-old company said it saw its sales grow by 136 percent in 2018 compared to the year prior. While it did not provide exact figures, Mellon noted that the company had its “first $1M sales day in October 2018.” Mellon opened its first brick-and-mortar location in Los Angeles at Palisades Village, but remains “digitally-led.” Earlier this year, the brand launched new handbags and sneakers lines.
Centricus co-founder Nizar Al-Bassam said his firm believes “the personal luxury market has attractive fundamentals and is ripe for disruption, driven by millennial preferences for engagement with brands and access to products.” The Mellon investment is one of several Centricus investments in the luxury space, according to Al-Bassam.
“We see an exciting opportunity to support Tamara Mellon Brand in further developing the brand, channel and product strategy that harnesses insights from data science to unlock the brand’s significant growth potential,” he said in a written statement.
Despite having co-founded Jimmy Choo, which sells shoes and handbags that cost more than some people’s weekly paychecks, the British-born Mellon is now focused on female empowerment and bucking “traditional rules of fashion.” She claims to now aim to cut the middle-man markup by going direct-to-consumer and by forming “relationships with family-run factories in Italy,” per her website.
In April 2018, Mellon offered a 20 percent discount on her website to call attention to the wage gap. According to FootwearNews.com, Mellon left Jimmy Choo in 2011 in part due to being frustrated with “unequal pay.”
Also according to FootwearNews.com, Mellon “created a one-of-a-kind capsule in honor of International Women’s Day in March 2018 to celebrate individuality and ‘unapologetic’ feminism.” She was quoted then as saying, “I’ve always said that my job is to design shoes, but I care more about the women who wear them.”
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias