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Fast-Growing Mensa Brands Acquires D2C Denim Brand

A denim brand was the latest target for Mensa Brands’ acquisition spree. On Monday, the Indian startup purchased High Star, also based in its home country, for an undisclosed sum.

High Star was an attractive purchase for the company, launching in 2012 and growing into a digital-first denim brand sold on India-based e-commerce sites like Myntra, Ajio, Flipkart and more. A new cycle calling for looser fits, combined with the overarching shift to casualization, makes denim a strategic category for the startup to enter.

Mensa Brands achieved a $1 billion valuation within six months of launch, making it the first Indian startup to reach unicorn status so quickly. The company, a Thrasio-style business specializing in acquiring fast-growing digital-first brands and scaling their products, now has 14 acquisitions under its belt. Prior to High Star, it purchased Mumbai-based home décor and kitchenware brand Folkulture, underscoring the home category’s boom that encouraged denim brands like Levi’s and Wrangler to make their debut in the space.

Ananth Narayanan, founder and CEO of Mensa Brands, is optimistic about the denim brand’s potential for growth.

“Together, we are working towards boosting the brand’s growth trajectory, setting a target of achieving a 10x gross turnover for the brand within the next four to five years,” Narayanan said. The first area of focus will be expanding the brand’s presence in domestic and international markets, followed by digital marketing, technology, working capital management and channel expansion.

The acquisition supports the Indian prime minister’s “local to global” push to elevate the country’s offerings worldwide. Earlier this month, sustainable apparel giant Patagonia purchased 30,000 meters (approximately 32,000 yards) of khadi denim—an ancient textile technique originating in India—through Indian denim mill Arvind as a way to bring local craftsmanship to mass denim. In July 2017, Arvind reached an agreement with the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC), an Indian government organization, to market khadi denim products around the world and create a steady stream of work for khadi artisans in the Indian state of Gujarat.