In an age where designers are increasingly taking their labels public (Prada, Michael Kors), or in turn losing and regaining control over labels with their own names on them (John Galliano, Jil Sander), New York designer Kenneth Cole is making the bold step of attempting to buy back his label in total.
According to WWD, the designer has recently made a bid to buy back all of the shares that he doesn't currently own (Cole owns 47 percent of the shares and 89 percent of the voting power). His offer puts the company's value at $15 per share, or about $280 million. WWD printed an excerpt from Cole's letter to the company:
"Recent market challenges have created a sharply competitive landscape, and I believe it is now more important than ever to embrace a more entrepreneurial perspective where we are all incentivized to grow and develop our company's products, brand and business with a longer term perspective ... I believe it is increasingly difficult to develop this type of culture in a public company context, where the public markets are increasingly focused on short-term results."
That was clearly the thinking behind the decision to take J.Crew private last year (for a whopping $3 billion), and the thinking behind the other brands that choose to remain private. Then again, the lure of a massive windfall for most labels by going public will stay strong when there are examples like Michael Kors, who raked in a $944 million windfall with its IPO at the end of 2011.