FUTURE PROOF: C VENTURES LOOKS TO MILLENNIAL-, GEN Z-FOCUSED BUSINESSES
Adrian Cheng and Clive Ng are looking to Millennials — and beyond — as they create a portfolio stuffed with media, tech and fashion brands.
NEW YORK — Adrian Cheng and his business partner Clive Ng are looking to Millennials — and beyond — as they aim to create a portfolio stuffed with media, tech, fashion and lifestyle brands focused on connection and community.
The partners’ newly formed hedge fund, C Ventures, has just taken a minority stake in Bandier, the community-building, experiential fitness retailer and earlier this year put its money behind Nowness, the online video channel cofounded byJefferson Hack and LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.
Cheng is set to elaborate on his strategy and burgeoning portfolio during a private lunch in London on Thursday.
“I’ve known Clive for a very long time. What we’re thinking of is a very big paradigm shift in the market, especially in the Millennials and Gen Z,” Cheng said in an interview on Wednesday after WWD broke the news of C-Ventures’ investment in Bandier.
“We are starting to build a global, connected kind of ecosystem that surrounds Millennials, not just them, but younger Millennials, the generation Z as well.”
The new fund has also taken a small minority stake in Hack’s creative and editorial agency, Dazed Media, with an eye to building up that business in China. Dazed Media publishes titles including Dazed, Dazed Fashion, Another Magazine and Hunger Magazine.
C Ventures has been targeting Gen Z-focused brands, taking stakes in the web sites Beautycon and Galore, and the comics and gaming company Skybound Entertainment, Cheng confirmed.
Its other properties including Paddle8 and Flont, a fine jewelry membership business. More investments are set to be revealed later this year.
“Adrian is definitely a cultural leader coming out of Asia. The brand and the platform they’ve built is on a global basis sort of unrivaled,” said Neil Boyarsky, who founded Bandier with his wife Jennifer Bandier.
“They’re putting together an incredible collection of Millennial and Gen Z brands for the next generation from a fashion, culture and lifestyle perspective. We’re happy to be a part of that. We’re a very small part of his overall business, but just the thought of what the possibilities are for the future are what is so exciting,”
With six stores and a burgeoning e-commerce business that accounts for half of total sales, Bandier has influenced the athleisure category since opening its first store in the Hamptons in the summer of 2014.
From the start, the founders offered stylish activewear from an assortment of global brands. To build a loyal customer following, the retailer hosts talks, special events and on-site fitness classes. Accessories, footwear and limited-run products are also part of the company’s assortment.
Bandier could open 30 to 40 stores in Asia in the next five years, though that is something that would only be considered with a partner, Boyarsky said.
Leveraging its flagship Fifth Avenue model, which include a 3,000-square-foot fitness studio, Bandier plans to open locations in key cities like Los Angeles in
the first quarter of 2018. Bandier is looking to open two to three stores next year, Boyarsky added.
He said Hong Kong and mainland China are priorities for expansion, followed by Japan and South Korea.
“IT’S NOT JUST A NEW YORK PHENOMENON OR A U.S. ONE, EVEN THOUGH THAT IS THE BIGGEST ACTIVEWEAR MARKET RIGHT NOW. OTHER PARTS OF THE GLOBE ARE DEVELOPING VERY QUICKLY. WE WANT TO BE THE MULTIBRANDED OFFERING THAT IS GLOBAL,” HE SAID.
Through two rounds of investments, Bandier has amassed $10 million, with this most recent infusion from C Ventures amounting to $7 million. Bandier’s platform for health and wellness, its lifestyle brand stature, and digital and experiential elements were attractive to C Ventures, according to Boyarsky. “The hard work that went into building Bandier, and the new retail model of having the [fitness] studio was what ultimately really was the appeal for Cheng,” he said.
Bandier connected with Cheng and Ng through Ohana & Co., an adviser to Cheng, the 37-year-old, Hong Kong-based executive director of New World Development and Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group.
Cheng is also heir apparent to his 70-year-old father Henry, who serves as chairman of the two firms. In addition to being one of the largest developers in Hong Kong, the family conglomerate runs the Carlyle Hotel and the prized Hôtel de Crillon in Paris on the Place de la Concorde in addition to the international chain of jewelry stores.
The family firm also controls four listed companies and some private ones. Cheng’s sister, Sonia, heads up the hotel side of the business, which includes Rosewood, New World and Pentahotel properties.
Combined, the Cheng family’s real estate and jewelry businesses are valued at an estimated $30 billion. Two of Cheng’s other siblings are involved with the family-run business, which is a rags-to-riches tale that was started by their grandfather Cheng Yu-tung, who built a $15 billion fortune.