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Reese Witherspoon-backed Draper James acquired by Consortium Brand Partners

Illustration of a dress on a hanger made out of money

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Private equity firm Consortium Brand Partners has acquired a majority stake in Reese Witherspoon-backed apparel brand Draper James.

Why it matters: With the expectation that deal activity will pick up in the second half of the year of the year, apparel is already getting lots of love from dealmakers.

Details: Consortium acquired a 70% stake in the company, which will become the first investment in its portfolio of consumer brands.

  • Witherspoon will remain a partner and board member.
  • "We're really working as partners with the management team," Consortium managing partner Cory Baker says.

Catch up quick: Consortium was founded in March by Marquee Brands veterans Baker, Michael DeVirgilio and Jonathan Greller.

  • The company is targeting brands "where there's a really strong, genuine relationship with the consumer," Baker says.
  • It is for the most part "category agnostic, consumer obsessed," Baker quips.
  • In addition to women's apparel, it is also interested in brands centered around the home and lifestyle, such as kitchen electronics, beauty services, and food and beverage.
  • Consortium wants to make sure that each of its portfolio companies gets an incredible amount of attention and a chance to grow and create value, Baker adds.
  • In terms of how many acquisitions it aims for, "one to two a year feels like the right pacing," Baker says.

What's next: Under Consortium's fold, Draper James plans to expand its presence globally in premium department and specialty stores.

  • "You look at a business like Draper James and it's massive blue sky," Baker says. "It's territory expansion, it's category expansion."
  • Consortium wants to build Draper James into "a proper lifestyle brand, with touch points in the home, with your pets, with your children and outdoor living."

Context: Witherspoon founded Draper James in May 2015, launching it as a direct-to-consumer brand that makes clothing, accessories and home décor items with a hint of Southern style.

  • The Nashville-based brand now has three retail locations including one in its hometown, one at the Nashville International Airport, and one in Lexington, Kentucky.
  • The company also has an exclusive collection at Kohl's.

Flashback: Draper James raised $10 million in a Series B led by Forerunner Ventures in 2019.

  • Stone Canyon Industries and existing investor JH Partners participated.
  • The company previously took investment from Lago Innovation Fund, G9 Ventures and GingerBread Capital as well.
  • It had raised about $17 million to date, according to PitchBook.
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