Digitally native lingerie start-up acquired

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Digitally native lingerie start-up acquired

By Marianne Wilson - 07/31/2019
A direct-to-consumer apparel brand popular with younger consumers and founded by a former Victoria’s Secret executive has been acquired by an industry leader.

Wacoal International Corp., parent company of Wacoal America, announced it has acquired Lively, the size-inclusive lingerie brand founded by Victoria's Secret alum Michelle Cordeiro Grant for $85 million. MMG Advisors Inc. represented Wacoal on the deal, which also includes another $20 million to $55 million dollars in payouts based on performance achievements.

Wacoal, founded in Japan in 1949, is a dominant premier brand in U.S. department and specialty stores, with a flagship (its only brick-and-mortar location) at The Mall at Short Hills in New Jersey. The majority of its stores occur via its wholesale retail partners.

Launched online in 2016, Lively sells a variety of bra styles in a wide range of sizes, with all styles priced at $35 regardless of size. It has since expanded into additional categories, including loungewear, active bras, and swimwear. The company entered physical retail in 2018 with the opening of a store in downtown Manhattan and one in Chicago. A third location is in the works. To date, the brand has raised $15 million in venture capital funding.

The deal will give Lively access to Wacoal's design and manufacturing resources and distribution channels. Wacoal will benefit from the younger brand’s digital expertise and its expansive community of engaged millennial customers, which differ from the core of Wacoal's current base, which skews older.

"We built Lively to inspire women to live life passionately, purposefully, and confidently, said founder and CEO Michelle Cordeiro Grant, who will remain in her role. “We invest in our community and customers to empower them to celebrate their individuality and enable them with products to look and feel their best. Wacoal's core values have a beautiful synergy with Lively's, enabling us to come together, not just to take market share, but to also create market share.”

The two firms will continue to operate as separate entities.

"The Lively brand has worldwide business potential that may be achieved with Wacoal corporate support globally," said Bob Vitale, president and CEO of Wacoal America. "As one of the digitally native brands that are positively disrupting the U.S. intimates' business, Lively has quickly established an incredible following. Our collaboration with Lively will no doubt result in dramatic sales growth and market share gains in the Americas, enabling both brands to engage and win the important millennial customer, and market more effectively in the evolving digital world.”

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