Fred Segal, the historic West Hollywood boutique name-dropped on shows like “Beverly Hills 90120,” has a new owner that wants to take its leather sandals and big acetate sunglasses to a broader audience.
Global Icons, a brand licensing firm that has worked to promote names like Vespa scooters and Fireball Whisky, is acquiring Fred Segal LLC for an undisclosed sum. Evolution Media, an investment firm created by Creative Artists Agency and TPG Capital, will maintain a minority stake.
“We’ve been brand stewards for a long time, but I’ve always wanted to be a brand owner,” said Jeff Lotman, chief executive officer of Global Icons, while downplaying concerns about retail’s demise in the age of Amazon. “It’s not that retail is dying. Boring retail is dying.”
Fred Segal started in 1961 under its eponymous founder, who sold high-end jeans and chambray shirts out of a tiny store in West Hollywood. Now, it carries everything from $70 cotton tank tops to $1,100 gold necklaces in its stores and online. Its shops are meant to exude California lifestyle, with a product array that includes bikinis, botanical tinctures and denim shorts.
Over the years, it earned a place in pop culture for being a fashion hot spot in Los Angeles, also earning appearances or mentions on shows like “The O.C.” and “Dawson’s Creek.”
The retailer plans to use the investment to expand its Fred Segal fashion collection, extend its licensing business to segments such as home decor and accessories and open around 20 new shops in major cities in the next five years. It will also debut a new Malibu store in April, the ninth in its fleet. Stores are currently spread across California, Switzerland, Taipei and Kuala Lumpur.
The company, which hopes to license its products in China and South Korea, is betting its California vibes will play better internationally. “There’s so much more interest in L.A. around the world, rather than the U.S.,” Lotman said.
Beyond the expansion, the label won’t be repositioned or fundamentally changed under the new ownership, according to Allison Samek, Fred Segal’s chief executive officer. Management will weigh any new product categories — as long as there’s a California connection.
Fred Segal seeks to capitalize on a resurgence of the so-called West Coast style, characterized by breezy, casual apparel. The look is also being pushed by trendy labels such as Reformation and Revolve.
Representatives for Fred Segal declined to share revenue numbers. Ownership of the company has bounced around in recent years. Sandow Media, which bought the rights to the Fred Segal brand in 2012, is no longer involved in the company. Evolution became majority stakeholder in 2016, and remains a minority partner following the deal.