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Rowing Blazers Acquired By Burch Creative Capital

The deal will inject new capital into the New York-based preppy streetwear brand, allowing it to expand its women’s assortment and move into a bigger flagship in Manhattan.
Rowing Blazers ad campaign
Under the ownership of Burch Creative Capital, Rowing Blazers co-founder Jack Carlson will remain creative director. (Rowing Blazers)

Rowing Blazers, the New York brand known for preppy streetwear and colourful rugby shirts, has sold a majority stake to group of buyers including fashion investment firm Burch Creative Capital, BoF has learned.

The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Burch Creative Capital, alongside Five Below founder Tom Vellios and Stonecourt Capital’s Jason Epstein, will acquire most of the shares owned by private equity firm KarpReilly, which purchased a minority stake in Rowing Blazers in 2021, as well as that of seed investors. Rowing Blazers founders Jack Carlson and David Rosenzweig will retain some stake in the business going forward, according to Carlson.

The transaction will inject fresh capital into Rowing Blazers’ operations, allowing the brand to open a bigger flagship store in New York, as well as build out its women’s line, pursue wholesale opportunities, revamp the e-commerce site and potentially improve supply chain capabilities.

“Production, dealing with factories, making sure we’re getting the right margins, and also making sure quality is top, top tier — all of that is perfectly within [BCC’s] wheelhouse,” said Carlson, who launched the brand in 2017.

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He will remain at the company as creative director. Rosenzweig will continue to serve as director of strategy, focusing on the brand’s collaborations and partnerships. Aimé Leon Dore chief financial officer Grant Simm, meanwhile, has been tapped to serve the same role at Rowing Blazers.

According to Carlson, he sought out an operational partner like Burch Creative Capital, which has invested in and advised for Tory Burch — Chris Burch was married to the namesake designer — and Staud, in order to take a backseat on the operational components of the business and focus on the creative side of the brand.

“The biggest thing was wanting a partner who was an operator, wanting a partner interested in taking a majority stake, and a partner that would enable me to focus on the creative, which is the part that I really enjoy,” Carlson told BoF.

As part of the deal, Burch Creative Capital will also acquire Blazer Group, a portfolio of licensed brands that Carlson launched last year. The group includes British knitwear brand Gyles & George, a Manhattan tailor called Chipp, and Warm & Wonderful, the knit label responsible for Princess Diana’s iconic red-and-white sheep sweater, which Rowing Blazers reproduced in 2020 and has become one of its highest-grossing styles.

“Jack [Carlson] has created an extraordinary brand that is reminiscent of my first apparel business, Eagle’s Eye,” Chris Burch said in a statement. “With our expertise and a team of amazing humans, I am certain we can turn this into a global brand.

Looking ahead, the brand’s biggest opportunity to scale is womenswear, Carlson said — something that Burch Creative Capital has a lot of expertise in and a category that performed especially well as part of Rowing Blazer’s collaboration with Target last year.

The new capital will also immediately aid the brand’s flagship move, from Rivington Street in New York City’s Lower East Side neighborhood to a bigger space somewhere in downtown Manhattan.

“I don’t want to focus too much on where the finish line is, but I do want to focus on this next step with BCC and to me, I just want to see the brand reach more people,” Carlson said.

Editor’s Note: This article was amended 26 February, 2024 to reflect that Tom Vellios and Jason Epstein are part of the buyer’s group for Rowing Blazers.

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About the author
Cathaleen Chen
Cathaleen Chen

Cathaleen Chen is Retail Correspondent at The Business of Fashion. She is based in New York and drives BoF’s coverage of the retail and direct-to-consumer sectors.

© 2024 The Business of Fashion. All rights reserved. For more information read our Terms & Conditions

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