Australian clothing company Cue has acquired a stake in the business owned by emerging Australian designer Dion Lee.
The specific details of the partnership have so far been kept under wraps, with neither brand revealing the value of the stake. The deal comes after Lee created a collection for Cue in 2010.
“Both parties see the partnership as a strategic opportunity to develop the Dion Lee business and accelerate the brand’s domestic and international growth,” a joint statement says.
Dion Lee will remain in control of the day-to-day operations of the business and will be independent from Cue and the company’s other label, Veronika Maine.
Owner and founder of Cue, Rodney Levis, said in a statement Dion Lee products will continue to be designed by Lee.
“We have found Dion to be a young man of rare talent, who has justified the many awards and accolades he has received,” he said.
The Cue Clothing Company has operated in Australia since 1968 and now has over 140 stores across Australia and New Zealand, along with stock in Myer stores.
Lee launched into the fashion scene in 2008 and since then has received international recognition for his tailored women’s designs. His products have appeared on several magazine covers, including Vogue Australia.
“I am very pleased to be partnering with the Cue Clothing Company to develop the potential of my brand. I have a great deal of respect for the Cue team and feel very lucky to be working with a partner who supports my creative vision for the future,” Lee said in a statement.
SmartCompany contacted Lee, but the designer provided no comment and no one from Cue was available for comment prior to publication.
Retail Doctor Group chief executive Brian Walker told SmartCompany the partnership is another example of Australian companies investing in fashion designers in order to grow their portfolios.
“We’re seeing new brands coming in and international brands coming into the country, and this is one way for Australian brands to be competitive,” he says.
Walker says by acquiring a stake in new designers, Australian retailers can “expand their market offer and make their products more contemporary”, which in turn creates value.
However, he points out one of the challenges for entrepreneurial designers is adapting to changes within the larger company.
“When Dion Lee joins a larger company, it then has to adapt and it’s this adaptation that the owners of both businesses need to be very aware of. There could be changes to the culture, brand image, leadership and business processes, such as the logistics, supply and production,” he says.
Walker says the brand will likely to take a softer approach at first, keeping changes light to avoid upsetting customers.
“It’s likely it’ll keep the business as usual and then overtime they’ll look for more shared synergies,” he says.