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Japanese/Chinese Bank Buys Stake in Costume National

Godfrey Deeny
April 22nd, 2010 @ 12:42 AM - Paris

Sequedge, a Japanese-Chinese merchant bank, has acquired a 17-percent stake in Milan fashion house Costume National, along with an option to double its holding by the end of next year.

Sequedge acquired the stake from Ennio and Carlo Capasa, the two brothers who founded Costume National two decades ago.

The deal comes after recent rumors that Costume National – a mid-sized Milan runway label – had been actively searching for a deep-pocketed investor after being heavily hurt by falling sales in the current downturn.

“We were impressed by the utter modernity of Sequedge, a company integrating the best financial investment skills with the availability of advanced financial technologies and a great ability to develop the participated business,” the Capasa brothers said in a statement.

Terms of the deal were not released.

With Ennio Capasa in charge of creative design and brother Carlo overseeing operations, Costume National has been a critically acclaimed fashion forward business, which stages its women’s runway shows in Paris, while the men’s collections are shown in Paris.

“It’s a strategic alliance, in a long-term project, where fashion and finance work together in an advanced way,” insisted the brothers.

The deal will help fund expansion in Asia, where Costume National has lagged behind other larger Milan fashion houses. The company now plans to open flagship stores in Hong Kong and Tokyo this year, adding to a retail chain that already includes flagships in Milan, Rome, Paris, New York, and Los Angeles.

The deal marks a significant step for Sequedge, a Hong Kong-based firm, which notes in its release that it has been “also socially very active, having founded in Japan the largest nursing home complex in the country.”

Established in 1986, Costume National today boasts accessories and footwear collections and an avant garde “street-couture” line C’N’C aimed at younger consumers, plus eyewear and fragrance lines for men and women, both produced under license.

“As a customer, I have loved wearing Costume National for more than ten years as the brand keeps on creating the best fashion forward garments staying true to its original philosophy, while many other brands change their style completely to please popular taste,” commented Sequedge CEO Kazunari Shirai.

The Capasa brothers, who own the remaining shares in Costume National, will retain their positions within the company. They predicted that annual turnover will grow to 200 million euros, or $265 million at current exchange rates, within three years.

“We are firmly committed to support not only financially but also in the strategic planning and business development in Asian countries. I am sure that the collaboration between Costume National and Sequedge will achieve a new concept of fashion brand,” added Shirai.

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