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BoF Exclusive | Silas Chou Investment Vehicle Acquires a Controlling Interest in Thakoon

The New York-based designer has joined forces with Vivian Chou, a recent Wharton graduate and daughter of textile mogul Silas Chou, to transform his business in 2016, BoF can reveal.
Thakoon Panichgul | Source: Courtesy
  • Lauren Sherman

HONG KONG, China — Thakoon Panichgul is known as one of New York's hardest-working designers, with a talent recognised by forces as wide reaching as Anna Wintour, Michelle Obama and Target.

Now, as the global fashion system prepares for what some believe to be a tectonic shift in the way clothes are shown and sold to the consumer, BoF has learned that Panichgul has partnered with Bright Fame Fashion, the Hong Kong-based family investment vehicle led by Vivian Chou — daughter of billionaire textile mogul Silas Chou — to establish a global designer business with a non-traditional model.

In its first major acquisition since being established in 2014, Bright Fame has taken a controlling stake in Thakoon Corporation. Panichgul will remain chief creative officer, and Maria Borromeo will continue as chief executive of Thakoon USA. Panichgul’s original investor, Kathryn Murdoch, retains a stake in the company. Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.

"This is an incredible opportunity to innovate and build the Thakoon brand internationally,” Panichgul exclusively told BoF. “Vivian recognises and shares our values. Her passion, and the Chou family’s expertise and legacy in pioneering global fashion will lead us into an exciting new chapter.”

Thakoon's  Spring 2016 collection, shown at New York Fashion Week in September, will be sold and distributed through traditional channels. The company's  new operating model — which it calls "real-time fashion" — is expected to be unveiled in early 2016. (Because of the shift, it seems the company will likely not show its next collection on the runway and is not currently listed on the official calendar for New York Fashion Week in February.)

Going forward, the brand will adopt a see-now, buy-now, wear-now approach, with a focus on e-commerce. The product will span the same range of price points as the current offering — Panichgul folded his secondary line, Thakoon Addition, into the ready-to-wear collection about a year ago — and will remain designer-level quality, according to the company. “Thakoon has tremendous potential to engage with, and deliver to a wider audience. ​His unique American perspective and authentic aesthetic set him apart, while his inclusive mindset, spirit and designer DNA will allow for the brand to scale,” Vivian Chou told BoF. “These assets will play into the next phase of our business model as we expand globally.”

The announcement comes at a time when many designers are reconsidering the way they show and market their collection. Last week, Proenza Schouler made news with its decision to withhold imagery of its Pre-Fall collection until it arrives in stores this May, following in the footsteps of Céline. In recent months, other brands have also adopted a see-now, buy-now model, including the newly relaunched Bill Blass.

Silas Chou, chairman and chief executive of Novel Enterprises Ltd, is best known for transforming struggling entities like Tommy Hilfiger and Michael Kors into billion-dollar powerhouses, so it's no surprise that plans for the Thakoon label appear to be both grand and aggressive. The Chou family takes a strategic  approach to their fashion investments, which have been few and far between. At Tommy Hilfiger, the plan was to leverage the connection between fashion and the music industry. For Michael Kors, it was about bringing fashion to television. For Thakoon, the plan is rooted in digital immediacy.

Disclosure: Novel TMT is part of a group of investors which holds a minority stake in The Business of Fashion

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