China's Wendy Yu seeks to invest in two fashion labels a year
Young Chinese fashion entrepreneur and philanthropist Wendy Yu, an investor in London-based fashion brand Mary Katrantzou, aims to build a fashion empire and plans to invest on average in two fashion brands a year for the foreseeable future, she revealed to FashionNetwork.com in an interview.
Yu, who is 28 years old, educated in Britain and the United States, is the daughter of Jingyuan Yu, owner of China’s biggest wooden door provider Mengtian Group. A sponsor of New York’s Met Gala, fashion’s most high-profile annual ball, Yu’s company has also invested in China’s Airbnb, Tujia, and the country’s equivalent to Uber, called Didi.
Yu said she was interested in young fashion brands that had a strong point of view, “ready for the next step” and carried strong growth potential in China.
“I visualize that by the time I am 80, I will probably have 50 brands under my portfolio,” Yu said in an interview on the fringes of the New York Times International Luxury Conference in Hong Kong. She said brands she invested in also had to be led by a strong operational team.
Her company Yu Holdings took a minority stake in Mary Katranzou late last year and invested this year in Cefinn, an accessible fashion brand, selling items priced at between £100-£300, founded by former British first lady Samantha Cameron. Cameron was previously creative director of British stationary brand Smythson and an ambassador for the British Fashion Council.
Yu has also invested in ASAP 54, a fashion search engine founded by Daniela Cecilio, wife of Farfetch founder and Chief Executive José Neves. The app became a fashion concierge service and was acquired last year by Farfetch in shares for more than $2 million.
“I know fashion is a long-term game,” Yu said. “I see myself doing this all my life.”
The young Chinese entrepreneur said she was not only interested in English brands but also Italian, French and American labels.
Yu made her first investment three years ago in Bottletop, a British accessories brand that uses recycled materials such as bottle tops. It was founded in 2012 by Cameron Saul and his father Roger Saul, founder of British luxury handbag brand Mulberry.
Yu said she planned to announce an investment in a Western beauty brand next year but would not divulge the name. This year, Yu Holdings launched a fashion prize together with the media Business of Fashion, to support young emerging Chinese talents.
“I think it is a good way to test brands and incubate them. I might invest in some of those brands. I think supporting homegrown talent is also important.”
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