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Italian-Made Luxury Sneaker Brand P448 Has a New Owner

P448, the Italian maker of fashion-forward street-style sneakers, is under new ownership.

StreetTrend LLC, a manufacturer, distributor and seller of fashion footwear and streetwear, has taken 100 percent ownership of the European footwear brand for an undisclosed sum.

P448 will complement StreetTrend’s PS821 footwear brand, which the distributor founded on the belief that exclusivity should be inclusive and that individuality and authenticity lie at the soul—and “soles”—of style. Both brands are positioned as luxury sneakers, handcrafted in Italy.

StreetTrend said that the P448 brand alone has achieved compound annual growth rate of approximately 40 percent since 2018. The brand is eyeing triple-digit growth next year, with a goal to reach 50 million euros ($58.5 million) in sales by 2022.

The move comes as sneakers and streetwear of all price points, shapes and sizes are gaining in popularity. Late in September, sneaker and streetwear marketplace GOAT reeled in $100 million in new funding to reach a reported valuation of $1.75 billion.

Former Stuart Weitzman CEO Wayne Kulkin launched StreetTrend in 2017 in a joint venture partnership with financial services and brand investment firm Hilco Global and its CEO Jeffrey B. Hecktman. The idea was for StreetTrend to be a “laboratory” of sorts for shoes that would experiment with new ideas and concepts, and create a collaborative relationship with retailers.

Self-described “sneakerhead” Kulkin first discovered P448 in 2017 while traveling to Italy to source brands for his new streetwear company. After several visits, Kulkin signed an agreement giving StreetTrend LLC exclusive distribution and marketing partner rights for P448 in U.S., Canada, Mexico, China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

After success as a P448 distributor, StreetTrend acquired 30 percent ownership of the brand’s parent NoThanks SpA in 2018, and Kulkin became the chairman of the board and a key driver behind the brand’s growth and success. Prior to the sale, NoThanks SpA was a venture shared by StreetTrend, the Milan holding company Panda (which had 35 percent of ownership) and P448 co-creative directors and founders Marco Samorè and Andrea Curti, who combined had a 35 percent share of the company.

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Since StreetTrend’s work distributing P448, the company expanded its distribution channels to U.S.-based retailers such as Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, Revolve, Amazon subsidiary ShopBop and fashion and styling company Evereve, as well as global retailers including French department store Printemps, Italian luxury fashion retailer Luisaviaroma, Denmark-based department store Illum, Dubai-based Level Shoes and Italian fashion retailer La Rinascente.

“Everyone is saying wholesale is dead—wholesale is not dead but it’s evolving,” Kulkin said in a statement. “The wholesale-to-DTC penetration will now move more towards a 70 percent/30 percent split DTC-to-wholesale. This is the new reality.”

The company also announced that Karen Katz, former president and CEO of Neiman Marcus Group, has been tapped as chairman of its advisory board. Katz has since been seated on several boards since retiring from her role at Neiman, including the boards of Under Armour and Casper.

Alongside the acquisition, StreetTrend launched a new design and creative services agency with a network of experts and facilities to leverage shared knowledge, industry experience and best-in-class resources called The Project Society.

To support The Project Society’s launch, StreetTrend opened a 20,000-square-foot design studio in Elda, Spain, with dedicated technicians and support staff led by creative director Daniele Michetti. This new design studio enabled the company to launch footwear collections for four lifestyle brands, creating complete lines from sketch to market. “All production and sourcing were executed in Italy and Spain—a critical factor in order to ensure premier design, quality and craftsmanship,” Kulkin added.

The P448 headquarters is located in Forli, Italy and includes a design studio, logistics and administration offices, and a direct showroom, which opened in Milan in January last year.