LA-based Madhappy recorded just $1 million in sales in 2018, its first full year in business. Yes, it may sound unusual, but LVMH has just invested into it.
Recently, LVMH has been scouting for small businesses. Other recent investments include Gabriela Hearst’s New York-based luxury line, sneaker reseller Stadium Goods and French beauty line L’Officine Universelle Buly. LVMH Luxury Ventures declined to comment to BOF.
But the bet on a tiny streetwear label is a sign of the luxury giant’s eagerness to get on board with start-up culture and emerging fashion business models, even as its parent steers some of the industry’s biggest brands.
Raf, along with Joshua Sitt, Peiman Raf and Mason Spector (ages 23, 25 and 25, respectively), started selling hoodies, tees and hats on their e-commerce site in April 2017, opening the first pop-up in LA later that month.
The team behind Madhappy is wise to build its brand around more than just clothing — that inclusive, community-driven strategy has been the key to success for other modern, millennial- and Gen Z-targeting companies, but pretty rare in the streetwear space, where brands tend to think a logo or a screen print is enough to sustain a business.
Madhappy is introduced as a positive brand willing to being happiness to people’s life.
Early on, celebrities like Cardi B and Sofia Richie wore the brand, helping create buzz on social media. Madhappy opened a series of pop-ups where they sold clothes and hosted parties; a block party this summer on Melrose Place in Los Angeles attracted thousands of guests.
Since 2017, there have been 10 pop-ups in Los Angeles, Aspen, Miami and New York. Offline efforts comprise about a third of sales.
Permanent stores are planned for next year in LA and New York, the brand’s biggest markets. But pop-ups will remain integral to the brand.
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“The old school model of retail is to do a pop-up store and see if it can hold the sales, then extend to a long-term lease,” Sitt said to BOF. “That’s not how we look at it. We look at as a chance to introduce Madhappy to the local community.”