Exclusive: Seafolly CEO Talks LVMH, Gigi Hadid and Australian Expansion
Seafolly is the definition of Australian swimwear for women. Vibrant prints, attractive cuts and athletic fabric make for a trifecta of swimsuit apparel. But when Anthony Halas, CEO, bought out a shareholder of the family business in 1998, the brand was in too many markets to truly be successful.
“At that point in time, the company was doing lots and lots of things: active wear, apparel, swimwear, under brands,” said Halas, in an exclusive interview with Business Review Australia. “When I took over the business, I saw that there was this little jewel, Seafolly, that was a very small brand at the time. I stopped the business from doing every other market it was in and purely focused on Seafolly.”
And it was just the move that needed to be made. Flash forward 17 years to December of 2014 and L Capital Asia, the Asian private equity fund sponsored by LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton S.A., acquired a controlling stake in the swimwear brand.
Halas had been approached on nearly a weekly basis by investors looking to get a piece of the Seafolly brand, but he had never had a reason to agree to an acquisition: until LVMH.
“Seafolly was being approached for years by private equity or trade buyers who wanted to invest in our business," Halas said. "I never came across someone who could truly add value and truly help the brand meet its longer-term goals. LVMH offered a whole different proposition—they really can add value. After two months of being partners, they already are adding value.
“I think it just gives us this whole other reach and scale and ability to expand globally. It’s a very exciting time for us.”
That’s not the only exciting news coming out of the Seafolly camp. The beginning of February saw American model Gigi Hadid become the new face of the brand.
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“She’s healthy, vibrant—I think a lot of women see that Gigi doesn’t have the stick-thin model figure, but a curvy, vivacious one. I think she just represents that healthy, active lifestyle that Seafolly is about," Halas shared.
The American beauty is on the fast track to fashion fame: campaigns for Guess, walking in the Marc Jacobs show during New York Fashion Week and in Jean Paul Gaultier, Sonia Rykiel and Chanel’s shows for Paris Fashion Week.
So what’s next for Seafolly, now with LVMH and Hadid on its side? The company already has an impressive 35 percent hold on the fashion swimwear market in Australia, so Halas is looking to expand into areas outside of swimwear. Seafolly is working towards developing a line of accessories including shoes, hats, bags, towels and accessories.
“Australia’s really going to be about moving from being thought of as purely a swimwear brand into a fully comprehensive lifestyle brand.”
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