The Business of Fashion
Agenda-setting intelligence, analysis and advice for the global fashion community.
Agenda-setting intelligence, analysis and advice for the global fashion community.
It may be the height of summer, but that hasn’t stopped Instagram’s favourite skiwear brand from welcoming some starry new investors.
Perfect Moment, the label best known for its sleek all-in-one snow suits and colourful matching ski sets, has secured a minority investment from Nick and Priyanka Chopra Jonas, marking the celebrity couple’s first joint venture in the fashion world and Perfect Moment’s first investment outside of a limited friends and family round.
“This is a brand that we’ve really come to love over the last couple of years, at first just as consumers, as fans of the brand,” Nick Jonas told BoF in an interview by phone. “We were introduced to it by some friends and just fell in love with the story and how bold the aesthetic was.”
Perfect Moment has come a long way since it was founded in 1984 in Chamonix, France. Originally the brainchild of a pro skier and extreme-sports filmmaker, Thierry Donard, it launched as a technical sports line mostly worn by the team of thrill-seekers who worked on his freeride ski and surf documentaries.
But under the ownership of former hedge fund manager Jane Gottschalk and her financier husband Max Gottschalk since 2012, it has transformed into social media’s hottest ski brand, spotted on the likes of Chiara Ferragni, Nicky Hilton and the Duchess of Cambridge and stocked at retailers including Net-a-Porter, Saks and Selfridges.
Now, with the backing of an A-list power couple, its owners aim to scale the business by adding new markets and develop its product offering by boosting its offer in men’s as well as surf and swim. Executives also plan to test the waters of physical retail to take advantage of a pandemic-fuelled surge in outdoor technical fashion. That market is forecast to hit $38.2 billion by 2024, up 18.3 percent on pre-pandemic levels, according to research firm Euromonitor.
Under its first CEO Negin Yeganegy — hired from Yoox Net-a-Porter at the height of the pandemic, in May 2020 — the company hopes to attract larger investments to fuel growth: the brand is aiming to tap financial markets with an IPO or to secure a deal with a strategic investor later this year.
To be sure, Perfect Moment remains an emerging business operating in an increasingly competitive space. Big and established luxury brands ranging from Chloé to Chanel have piled into the skiwear space in recent seasons, joining established specialist labels like luxe Moncler and “gorpcore” fave Arc’teryx.
But its new investors see unique potential for the brand to capture the next generation of fashion-conscious skiers. Starting at £460 for a ski jacket and £225 for a wool jumper, Perfect Moment plays in a sweet spot that’s exclusive, but still more affordable than Fendi or Moncler. Its core customer is aged 25 to 35, the company said, while its biggest market is the US, a region that’s been driving growth for luxury brands since the pandemic. It’s hoped the endorsement of stars like Jonas and Chopra will provide a marketing boost, exposing the brand to new customers in both established and emerging markets.
“We see a really big opportunity here, especially because you’ve seen in such a short period Perfect Moment has become one of the most desirable ski wear brands on the market,” Chopra Jonas said. “Young people today, honestly, you’re looking for function and fashion; And that is the greatest part of Perfect Moment.”
Jane and Max Gottschalk met Perfect Moment’s founder Donard through mutual friends in 2007, bonding with him over a shared passion for skiing. One heli-ski excursion later, the couple agreed to help Donard with a business plan for his label, simultaneously investing some money into the business. After a few years, the couple took a chance on acquiring the business outright in the hopes that reviving its somewhat dusty image would drive commercial success.
Under Jane Gottschalk’s creative directorship the brand underwent a transformation, revamping its product, distribution and marketing strategies to cater to a younger, fashion-conscious skier who was looking for something playful as well as technical.
In the highly competitive fashion landscape, Gottschalk realised that staying laser-focused on an underserved specialist niche could work to her advantage. She pointed to the rise of luxury cycling brand Rapha as an inspiration, which by 2016 had grown to a $75 million business by building a highly engaged community within the sport.
“I just thought, how genius that they could do that. And they can create this online community,” Gottschalk said. “There was [cool] ski stuff if you knew where to go, but it wasn’t readily available online, it definitely wasn’t on Net-a-Porter or Matches, or at Harrods and Selfridges,” she said.
She reimagined the Perfect Moment’s look, modernising its star logo as well as brand signatures like chevron pattern and polar bear motifs while leaning into its retro roots. The brand takes inspiration from the on-piste styles of pro-skiers like Jean-Claude Killy as well as fashion muses like Brigitte Bardot and Audrey Hepburn. Fun silhouettes and bold prints differentiated the brand from traditional players in the market, as did a focus on fit: clients can choose from low-waisted, skinny salopettes or high-waisted flare and cargo styles.
We are a technical sportswear brand — and we look quite fun.
Instead of specialist ski retailers, Gottschalk sought out high-end fashion stockists like Lane Crawford, Net-a-Porter and Matchesfashion, seeing an opportunity to capture fashion clients who were already used to investing ample sums in their wardrobes. Meanwhile, with little marketing budget, she prioritised social media, leveraging the brand’s unusual use of pop colours and distinctive silhouettes to grab attention on Instagram.
“Perfect Moment moved the ski category away from functional apparel and made stylish skiwear more accessible,” said Net-a-Porter’s senior market editor Libby Page, noting that Perfect Moment was the first ski performance brand the retailer stocked, and remains one of its top-performing ski brands today. “The brand’s accessible price point plus their vibrant, eye-catching pieces attract a younger customer.”
Gottschalk added a surf capsule marrying technical fabrications with playful, elevated design, with hopes the line would evolve into a summer complement to the brand’s core ski business. “You have to keep bringing everybody back to who you are, the story of what you are. We are a technical sportswear brand — and we look quite fun,” she said.
Gottschalk was looking to find a strategic partner to help scale the business back in 2020, but talks fell apart amid the onset of Covid-19, she said.
Perfect Moment declined to disclose revenue figures, but the brand claims to have been resilient during the pandemic, with sales flat year-on-year in 2020 and 2021 despite all the major European ski resorts being closed.
Under CEO Yeganegy, who was previously Yoox Net-a-Porter’s group director of e-commerce, the brand focused instead on growing its US business, where ski resorts remained open while pivoting in Europe to pushing its cropped puffers and colourful merino knits as city essentials. The brand became profitable this year, it said.
Now, as the world opens back up, Perfect Moment is looking to execute an ambitious growth plan.
Expanding in the Middle East and Asia — especially China, where the Beijing Winter Olympics helped pique consumer interest in winter sports — are priorities, as well as growing men’s and its surf and swim businesses. Physical retail is also on the cards, but more as an acquisition tool to fuel e-commerce growth, said Yeganegy, noting that direct sales on the brand’s website already account for half the business.
The brand is working towards a deal for the end of the year to help it execute on its business ambitions, either in the form of an IPO or by partnering with a strategic investor. “There are a few options on the table,” said Gottschalk, declining to elaborate further.
For now, the backing of new partners Jonas and Chopra Jonas could provide fresh momentum and help kickstart growth coming out of the pandemic. The couple is seen as young, sexy and smart, and they have a vast online audience, with 111 million followers on Instagram.
Perfect Moment declined to disclose the terms of the deal with the pair.
“I think it was a very good match,” Yeganegy said.