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Exclusive: Emma and Jens Grede, Von Furstenbergs Invest in The Elder Statesman

The duo behind Skims are taking a minority stake in the luxury cashmere label, with an eye on scaling the cult brand.
Greg Chait has sold minority stakes in his luxury knitwear brand, The Elder Statesman, to Emma and Jens Grede and the Von Furstenberg Family.
Greg Chait has sold minority stakes in his luxury knitwear brand, The Elder Statesman, to Emma and Jens Grede and the Von Furstenberg Family. (Courtesy)

Emma and Jens Grede, the entrepreneurs behind Skims and other brands, have acquired a minority stake in The Elder Statesman, the Los Angeles-based luxury knitwear label founded by Greg Chait.

The deal will provide an infusion of cash and operational knowhow to a business that has built an international clientele for its colourful, sometimes bordering on psychedelic cashmere and home goods, but has historically operated on a small scale.

The Gredes’ stake was acquired through Popular Culture, their family office, and was accompanied by an investment from the Von Furstenberg family, according to a statement from The Elder Statesman. Financial terms were not disclosed, though the brand described both stakes as “significant minority investments.”

That cash will go towards opening stores in more international markets, and entering new categories, according to a statement from the company. Chait’s designs are primarily sold wholesale through retailers such as Bergdorf Goodman and Elyse Walker as well as its own website; the brand has just one permanent store, in West Hollywood, California, with a second slated to open in New York later this year.

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Chait will stay on as chief executive and chief creative officer, while the Gredes are coming on board as owner-operators, and will be playing a significant role in strategic decision-making in areas ranging from merchandising to marketing, a person familiar with the deal said.

“A paradigm shift is what was called for and with the Gredes’ expertise and the Von Furstenbergs’ support I am excited for this next chapter,” Chait said in a statement. “The world is a wild place at the moment, but Jens and Emma have an uncanny ability to see through the matrix.”

The Gredes have launched and scaled a slew of fashion brands, with Jens co-founding the denim label Frame with Erik Torstensson in 2012 and Emma launching the plus-sized denim line Good American with Khloé Kardashian in 2016.

However it’s their work on Skims, the shapewear brand they started with Kim Kardashian, that cemented their reputation for having a golden touch in retail. Founded in 2019, Skims quickly emerged as a challenger to Victoria’s Secret with a take on intimates that was at once sexy, aspirational and inclusive. The brand was reportedly valued at $4 billion last year, when net sales were projected to reach $750 million. An initial public offering is rumoured to be in the works.

The Elder Statesman is a long way from hitting those heights. But these are good times to be in the business of $255 cashmere socks and $2,000 cardigans. “Quiet luxury” brands such as Loro Piana and Brunello Cucinelli are thriving. While perhaps best known for its bold sweaters, The Elder Statesman has one foot in the stealth wealth space as well, including a collaboration with Zegna last year.

“Greg has built a brand that is recognized for its inimitable aesthetic the world over,” Jens Grede said in a statement. “We are proud to be Greg’s partner as he eyes this next chapter of his company’s growth into a global luxury brand.”

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About the author
Brian Baskin
Brian Baskin

Brian Baskin is Deputy Editor at The Business of Fashion. He is based in New York and oversees BoF's beauty, retail, direct-to-consumer, technology, marketing and workplace verticals.

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