When it comes to investing into consumer brands, here at Sweater, we keep a tight pulse on industry trends with a close eye on future potential. We’re excited to announce our investment into what we believe will be one of the next iconic American fashion brands—Frances Valentine.
Frances Valentine is a modern American lifestyle brand featuring women’s apparel, handbags, shoes, jewelry, and accessories. They’ve already established a successful omnichannel approach, including e-commerce, owned retail, trunk shows, and carefully selected retail partners. The company celebrates personal style, creating joy-sparking, vintage-inspired pieces for the timeless woman.
Best friends Elyce Arons and Kate Spade along with Kate’s husband, Andy Spade, are well-known for their role in launching the one-and-only Kate Spade in the early 90s. The three of them built the company from a crowded NYC loft into an iconic international brand through sheer hustle and grit sustained by a colorful vision.
Of course, their witty and playful designs played a major role in Kate Spade’s rapid growth. Annual revenue exploded from a mere $100,000 in 1993 to over $27 million by 1998. They eventually sold a controlling stake in Kate Spade to the Neiman Marcus Group in 1999 to focus on their families, though they continued to play an active role in the growth of the company (Kate Spade was most recently purchased by Coach for $2.4 billion in 2018).
The Next Chapter
In 2016, Kate, Andy, and Elyce decided to get back to creating, launching Frances Valentine, named after Kate’s daughter, Frances. Building off the experience of a wildly successful initial foray into fashion, Frances Valentine is simply the next, blossoming chapter—a continuation of the legendary style for which they are known and loved.
“We believe personal style is a mood-boosting, conversation-sparking, confidence-building celebration of a life well-lived.”
In the last five years, they’ve experienced strong, consistent growth, working towards building the next great American brand. Even through the pandemic and global supply chain challenges, Frances Valentine continues to shine with impressive growth numbers.
Why Sweater Invested
There are several factors that make this investment decision an attractive opportunity for us. Putting their previous success with Kate Spade aside, the true omnichannel strategy at Frances Valentine has summoned a massive following and sustained memorable brand experiences both on and offline. Even more, their growth has been unstoppable, with an expected 26% revenue growth in 2022 through a turbulent economy. And with a senior management team of 100% women—actually a rarity in women’s fashion—we’re thrilled about the company’s trajectory.
Industry-leading & Passionate Founders
Kate, Andy, and Elyce are some of the most prominent designers in fashion. Taking all they’ve learned from the success of Kate Spade, the three of them have created a brand that truly evolves their singular brand vision. Frances Valentine’s brand ethos, network, design philosophy, and go-to-market strategy have led to a strong revenue trajectory that has mimicked Kate Spade’s growth, adjusting for inflation.
Following the loss of Kate in 2018, Elyce has built on the core team, bringing in industry veteran, Margaret Spencer, as President and Chief Strategy Officer, further demonstrating the company’s commitment to turn Frances Valentine into a major American brand.
Owning a Piece of the Next Great American Brand
The market is ripe for a fresh American brand, and Frances Valentine has the traction and branding to capture the consumer’s heart. The team has successfully developed a joyful, differentiated style that is uniquely American. They’ve cultivated a loyal and high-value customer base in the over-40 segment, leading to impressive growth from both new and retained customers.
Shaping the Future of American Fashion & Design
Frances Valentine launched with handbags and shoes, and just three years ago expanded into apparel, which now comprises more than 60% of their revenue. In 2021, they dipped their toes into home products and are continuing to explore how to weave their brand into the daily lives of their customers.
This Series A investment from Sweater, along with investments from Curate Capital and Break Trail Ventures, gives Frances Valentine capital to quickly expand into new markets where they can easily execute on their established brand strategy.
If you’re interested in learning more about how you can invest in Frances Valentine and other exciting ventures shaping the future of how we live, download the Sweater app and join the community driving the world of venture forward.