Tamara Mellon Raises $50 Million for Shoe Empire

Photographed by Diego Uchitel
Tamara Mellon

The businesswoman and Jimmy Choo co-founder counts Michael Ovitz, Centricus, Quadrille Capital and Goop backer New Enterprise Associates as investors.

Tamara Mellon — co-founder of Jimmy Choo, who left that company in 2011 — is proving she can once again lead a top-tier fashion company, as her namesake label on Monday announced that it has raised $50 million in Series C funding, bringing its total capital raised to $87 million since launching in 2013 with co-founder Jill Layfield.

The luxury footwear house is hailing its funding round accomplishment as "one of the largest to date for a female-founded fashion brand."

The news comes a year after fellow female fashion mogul Stella McCartney bought out Kering's 50 percent stake in her eponymous brand, which the luxury group had owned since Stella McCartney was launched in 2001 (other Kering houses include Gucci, Saint Laurent and Balenciaga). Other female founders include bridal designer Vera Wang (whose net worth is $460 million, according to Forbes) and Rihanna, who launched her Fenty fashion house this year with Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton LVMH to become the first female designer of color at the largest luxury conglomerate in the world.

Now, Tamara Mellon can count London-based investment firm Centricus as a new investor; prior investors Quadrille Capital and New Enterprise Associates (which also invests in Gwyneth Paltrow's lifestyle brand Goop and fashion site Moda Operandi) contributed to the new round. CAA co-founder Michael Ovitz, Mellon's life partner, is also an investor.

Mellon stated that they plan to use the funding for manufacturing innovation and more retail stores (after opening the first brick-and-mortar location at Palisades Village in November) and will expand from 40 to 60 employees this year.

"In the first half of my career, I built one of the biggest luxury brands in the world, but I left to start something that I’d be more proud of culturally. This investment is a validation of that vision and my team’s work to create a modern luxury brand that has values," Mellon told The Hollywood Reporter in a statement. She previously told THR that she is in her Los Angeles office every day with her team. "In fact, I've completely changed the culture of the way I work and the way I used to work. Now I actually sit in an open space. ... The difference between what I'm doing with Tamara Mellon brand and how I built Jimmy Choo is the business model is totally different and the culture is totally different." 

Among the stars to wear Tamara Mellon shoes are Michelle Williams, Sophie Turner, Eva Mendes, Meghan Markle, Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez, Jennifer Lawrence, Reese Witherspoon, Gabrielle Union, Margot Robbie, Regina King and Elizabeth Banks.

Added Centricus co-founder Nizar Al-Bassam in a statement: "We are pleased to be supporting Tamara, Jill and their exceptional team at this crucial stage of Tamara Mellon Brand’s development. The personal luxury market has attractive fundamentals and is ripe for disruption, driven by Millennial preferences for engagement with brands and access to products."

Sales at Tamara Mellon increased 136 percent in 2018, although Mellon would not reveal the current valuation of the company.