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William Rast, Joe’s Jeans Headed to New Owners

Denim brands William Rast and Joe’s Jeans have found themselves a new, and somewhat familiar, home.

Both labels were part of the stable of brands owned by bankrupt Sequential Brands Group, which was led by CEO Yehuda Shmidman at the time they were acquired. Shmidman subsequently left the company and formed his own brand management firm called WHP Global, where he is chairman and CEO.

According to Delaware bankruptcy court records, WHP Global was selected as the winning bidder on Oct. 28 for the William Rast brand. WHP outbid the stalking horse bidder WRBH Brands Group, a New York firm affiliated with Millennial Apparel Group, which had offered $1 million, payable in installments.

The Willam Rast asset purchase agreement on file with the bankruptcy court also references the $42 million purchase agreement with Centric Brands for Joe’s Jeans. According to the court filing, the new purchase price is $48.5 million, but it now includes both William Rast and Joe’s Jeans. That means that WHP will own William Rast, the denim and sportswear brand founded by Justin Timberlake and Trace Ayala in 2005, and partner with Centric for Joe’s Jeans.

On Friday, Centric and WHP confirmed that they received court approval to acquire the Joe’s Jeans brand, subject to customary closing conditions. The two said WHP will own the worldwide intellectual property in all global territories other than China, while Centric will continue to operate Joe’s Jeans under a long-term exclusive license for their core categories and geographies across retail, wholesale and e-commerce channels. Joe’s Jeans, with its L.A. sensibility and distinctive point-of-view, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. It’s denim, apparel and accessories for women and men are sold at premium department stores, specialty boutiques, 10 Joe’s Jeans stores and online at the brand’s website.

WHP is still awaiting final approval to acquire the William Rast brand.

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“We have significantly invested in Joe’s Jeans throughout our years of operation and have established the brand as one of the leading premium denim resources,” Jason Rabin, Centric Brands’ CEO, said. “Celebrating its 20th year, we look forward to partnering with WHP Global to further develop the brand and new avenues to grow the business.”

“The acquisition of Joe’s Jeans in partnership with Centric is a win for WHP Global as it expands our growing fashion vertical which already includes Anne Klein and Joseph Abboud,” Shmidman said. “Together with Centric, we will look to build upon the core business and expand around the world to new geographies.”

WHP acquired Anne Klein, its very first acquisition, in July 2019. That was followed by Joseph Abboud in March 2020. Backed by Oaktree Capital Management, Shmidman has been growing WHP’s portfolio. This past March, WHP took a majority stake in Toys “R” Us, a deal that included Babies”R” Us and more than 20 established consumer toy and baby brands.

Sequential filed its Chapter 11 petition on Aug. 31 in a Delaware bankruptcy court. Jessica Simpson paid $65 million to buy back the stake in her brand, the Jessica Simpson Collection, that she didn’t already own. Sequential’s active group was sold to Galaxy Universal for $330 million.