Relativity Media Moves Into Fashion Representation (Exclusive)
The Ryan Kavanaugh-led company is launching a new division, headed up by former CAA agents who will be able to take a larger role in the business affairs of their designer, stylist, and hair and makeup artist clients.
Relativity Media, the film and TV company that already has a sports representation business, is now moving into representing fashion industry talent -- including designers, creative directors, stylists, editors, hair and makeup artists, and some corporate brands -- through the New York City-based M3/Relativity.
The new division will be run by Mitch Grossbach, Matthew Hunt and Martin Dolfi, all of whom had similar jobs with CAA until August. They will report to Relativity COO Happy Walters.
Unlike CAA, where they were limited to the usual agent's role, the new M3/Relativity toppers will not only find jobs for clients but will also be able to produce their programming and make equity investments in their businesses and related companies.
Grossbach tells The Hollywood Reporter that their clients will be established fashion industry figures who "are very interested in generating opportunities that produce revenue for them that are not typically opportunities they get to see on a day-to-day basis.
"Relativity is perfectly positioned to enable those particular areas for our clients, given that they are creators and owners of content for both television and for the big screen," he adds. "That's a very powerful position for us to be in if we have a client who says, 'I want to be involved in unscripted television.' We are able to bring to the table Relativity's expertise because they produce content in this area."
In addition to movies, Relativity has a separate music division, a sports representation arm and a busy reality TV business with shows on the air including Catfish: The TV Show, The Great Food Truck Race and Hollywood Girls Night.
"The growth of new distribution channels has really increased the value of content, and we want to generate and own content in a variety of areas," says Relativity CEO Ryan Kavanaugh. "M3/Relativity is a perfect evolution from the success we have had in television and sports in expanding from our film base."
Grossbach said it was too early to identify any clients. At CAA, however, the trio's clients included celebrity fashion stylist Rachel Zoe, high fashion brand Marchesa and celebrity designer Kate Young, as well as designers Derek Lam and Nicola Formichetti.
The new agency also will connect brands with the fashion business. "Many of these people are interested in opportunities to work with Blue Chip Fortune 500 brands," says Grossbach, "whether it is to collaborate on things like designing accessories, marketing and sponsorship opportunities. Our designers have different types of platforms that are great for brands to leverage, whether it is fashion shows, online properties or content."
The establishment of M3/Relativity was set in motion a little more three months ago when CAA restructured their fashion representation business, folding the New York office into its licensing/intellectual properties group. In the transition, the trio of fashion agents decided to set out on their own.
Grossbach pitched his idea for a new kind of agency to a number of other agencies and companies before hooking up with Relativity. Gawker reported that both WME and ICM Partners passed on the opportunity, but Grossbach says he sought out Relativity because it "brings very unique assets to the equation that are different than the assets we had at CAA."
CAA doesn't create content and must operate under the California licensing laws for talent agents, which restrict the sellers (agents) from also being buyers (producers). Those rules don't apply to the new business. "The degree of flexibility we have is considerably greater," says Grossbach.
Under Kavanaugh, Relativity has made a number of investments alone or with partners to grow its business -- and because they are attractive opportunities. That is also part of the plan for the fashion division.
"We are in the day-to-day lives of these fashion industry individuals," says Grossbach. "As their agents we have the privilege of seeing first-hand opportunities that most people don't get to see."
An example, he says, might be a winery that wants to have a designer or stylist work with them "in creative aspects of their business. That could create an equity opportunity for that person."
Says Kavanaugh: "This new fashion arm is one more piece of Relativity's 360 degree vision to generate and own all major forms of creative content."
Rebecca Sun contributed to this report.