NEW YORK – Jim Ammeen has found buyers for the Halston brand, and they’re a long way from Wall Street.
Controlling interest in the brand, previously owned by Neema Clothing and chief executive Ammeen, has been sold to The Weinstein Company, the brainchild of film producers Harvey and Bob Weinstein, and, as lead investor, Hilco Consumer Capital, the private equity firm based in Northbrook, Ill.
Financial terms of the transaction haven’t been disclosed. While HCC will supervise day-to-day operations until a complete management group is in place, the new owners have brought in Tamara Mellon, president of Jimmy Choo, to supervise creative direction. Included on the board of the new Halston Company are Weinstein, co-chairman of TWC; Mellon; Ammeen; James Salter, chief executive of HCC; Jeffrey Hecktman, chairman and CEO of HCC parent Hilco Trading LLC; and John Semel, senior vice president of business development of The Weinstein Co. An advisory board is being assembled to identify and hire a new CEO, lead designer and creative team. Salter will oversee the partnership on behalf of HCC, and Semel will do the same for TWC.
Mellon will continue in her role at Jimmy Choo, which was sold to private equity firm TowerBrook and the company’s management for about $365 million in February.
HCC took over Apparel Holdings Group, owners of the Caribbean Joe trademark, in January and renamed it CJ Apparel Group.
“We are very excited about the opportunity to bring back one of the truly great names in fashion,” said Hecktman and Salter, in a jointly issued statement. “Halston was once an international fashion superstar. We plan to rebuild the brand to its former stature, and beyond, through the talents and efforts of an elite business management team that includes the incredible creativity and marketing prowess of Bob and Harvey Weinstein.”
Weinstein commented, “Two years ago, when my brother and I started TWC, one key component we were talking to the investors about was finding a name brand to acquire to diversify our company, just like Arnon Milchan did with Regency and Puma. As soon as Tamara Mellon brought this deal to me, I knew that Halston would be the perfect fit for TWC. Our company has already had tremendous success turning the hit fashion show, Project Runway, into a global brand and we see the same potential with Halston. We are thrilled to be joining this group of investors and advisors to help reinvent one of the greatest brands in fashion history. We believe this innovative partnership furthers the natural connection between the adjacent worlds of entertainment and fashion.”
Mellon stated, “Halston is one of the truly iconic brands of the last century. I have long believed that the glamour, elegance and timeless modernity of the clothes he created are as relevant today as they were when he stood at the epicenter of the fashion world thirty years ago. I am excited to be part of a team that hopes to bring the brand back for a new generation.”
Starting with an association with New York’s Bergdorf Goodman, Halston, born Roy Halston Frowick, built a celebrity following that included the likes of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Liza Minelli.
The new ownership is the latest in a string of proprietors of Halston that commenced well before the designer’s death from AIDS in 1990. It was sold to Norton Simon in 1973 as the designer licensing trend began to heat up, and the brand’s upscale reputation later suffered as licensing deals were struck with J.C. Penney, in one of the first direct-retail arrangements, and others. Halston pioneered the use of Ultrasuede in women’s apparel and it would later find a home in men’s tailored clothing products as well.
After significant artistic and commercial success as filmmakers, the Weinsteins sold their firm, Miramax, to The Walt Disney Co. for $80 million in 1993. They founded TWC in 2005 following their break with Disney.