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New Guards Group Acquires Ambush and Opening Ceremony

Off-White™ and Heron Preston's platform adds the two brands to its portfolio

New Guards Group Acquires Ambush and Opening Ceremony Off-White™ and Heron Preston's platform adds the two brands to its portfolio

The Milan-based New Guards Group, the holding company that owns Off-White™, Palm Angels, Marcelo Burlon and Heron Preston, has just acquired majority stakes in Ambush, the Tokyo-based jewellery brand founded by rapper Verbal and Dior's jewel design director Yoon Ahn, and Opening Ceremony, an American streetwear brand created by Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, former Kenzo's creative directors creatives. The two brands were acquired soon after the New Guards Group itself was taken over by Farfetch for 675 million dollars, in a move that, along with the acquisition of Stadium Goods, suggests that Farfetch may soon own an empire rival to those of Kering and LMVH, but focused on the streetwear world.

Although Ambush is now considered an established excellence in fashion circles and has gained a remarkable brand awareness around the world, the brand's turnover is relatively small. Annual sales are estimated at 22 million dollars, of which 30% is occupied only by jewelry. In addition, half of global sales, both online and offline, come from Japan itself. For New Guards Group co-founder Davide De Giglio, this gap between sales and awareness represents potential to explore, given that adding Ambush to the group's portfolio would differentiate its offer. The same goes for Opening Ceremony, which is both a brand involved in various collaborations and a chain of stores, whose clothing line makes up only 25% of the company's revenue. A percentage that Farfetch and the New Guards Group intend to increase.

From a brand point of view, however, joining the New Guards Group platform means having an ideal springboard to bring Ambush's operations to an international level. Announcing the acquisition in an interview with Business of Fashion, Yoon Ahn said:

"There aren’t that many internet companies that have the capability, especially in the retail space, to go globally".

Until now, in fact, the entireity of Ambush's operations, both in terms of supply chain and distribution, were based in Japan, limiting the brand's capabilities even on the level of language barriers. Humberto Leon and Carol Lim made a similar joint statement:

"Our continued search for innovation led us to this partnership with Davide de Giglio and Andrea Grilli, who have created one of the best global brand platforms in existence today. This next step for Opening Ceremony means we get to connect our desire to invent the future and design for our community to a dynamic infrastructure".

The New Guards Group's ability to provide an efficient infrastructure network with established mechanisms is the biggest attraction for the brands that join it. As for Ambush, for example, only the production of jewelry and denim will remain in Japan, while a large part of the clothing sector will be relocated in Italy. Thanks to the increased production capacity, it is in Ambush's projects the inauguration of a line of shoes and one of bags and the launch of international flagship stores outside the Japanese territory. In any case, the creative department of the brand will maintain its headquarters in Tokyo, where the two co-founders live.

"We needed that production help to take our vision [to the next level]", Ahn continued.

The same will happen for Opening Ceremony that will see its production chains moved to Italy, its site relaunched on Farfetch and will open a new showroom in Paris. In addition, the action plan is expected to increase collections and production by the brand.

The platform-partner, with the administrative and financial services it offers, in addition to shared logistics management, has become the ideal model for the development of brands in recent years especially in the perspective of the new luxury, according to which a brand is successful to the extent that it is able to affect the cultural perception of its target, entering into its social dynamics through participatory mechanisms. To accomplish this, those structures and the kind of management that only a platform can provide to a brand are needed. Between the wholesale crisis and the optimisation of distribution logistics that modern customers demand, the capital and infrastructure of platforms such as the New Guards Group have become indispensable for brands that want to grow and extend their operations on a global platform.