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J Brand Jeans Announces Strategic Partnership with Star Avenue Capital

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Los Angeles – J Brand, a rapidly growing premium denim company, announced today a strategic investment by Star Avenue Capital, LLC (Star). Star has acquired a majority interest in J Brand and will partner with J Brand’s management team to provide strategic resources to support the company’s growth. Jeff Rudes, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, and Albert Schami, Chief Operating Officer, will continue to serve in their current roles and maintain substantial ownership stakes in the company.

“Star Avenue Capital is pleased to partner with Jeff and his talented management team to strategically support J Brand’s business and to bring it to the next level in the premium denim category,” said Mark Genender, Star Avenue Capital’s Managing Director. “Star was created to invest in growing branded businesses at J Brand’s stage of development and to assist them in executing upon and realizing the many attractive opportunities in front of them.”

Star, based in Los Angeles, is a consumer growth equity vehicle recently formed in partnership with private equity firm Irving Place Capital and leading entertainment and sports agency Creative Artists Agency (CAA). “We have direct access to CAA’s extensive resources and expertise across multiple functional areas including marketing, branding, lifestyle and consumer research, as well as access to Irving Place Capital and its relevant investment experience with consumer and retail companies,” added Mr. Genender. “We are confident that J Brand’s ongoing commitment to its product and customers, coupled with Star’s differentiated approach, will result in a long and successful partnership.”

Headquartered in Los Angeles, J Brand was founded in 2005 by Jeff Rudes and Susie Crippen, and experienced immediate success through the introduction of its women’s skinny jean. The company has since become a leading premium denim brand, both domestically and abroad. J Brand is featured at specialty stores and luxury retailers- in the U.S. (Barneys New York, Bergdorf Goodman, Jeffrey and Ron Herman), London (Harvey Nichols and Selfridges), Paris (Le Bon Marchel, Milan (Biffi), and Moscow (Tsum), among others. Upon the closing of the transaction, Susie Crippen, Creative Director, will be leaving the company to pursue other endeavors. The Company’s experienced and talented creative marketing team will remain in place.

Mr. Rudes said, “We are very excited about the partnership with Star Avenue Capital and the strategic resources it will provide J Brand as we grow the business further and expand into new categories. Star, CAA, and Irving Place Capital understand our core values and the importance of product quality, fit and innovative design. All three partners bring unique expertise and their ongoing involvement will be   critical to our continued success.”

“From the day we started with J Brand, it has been one of the top performing brands in premium denim, and in the store, for that matter,” said Frank Doroff, Vice Chairman of Bloomingdales. “Our customers  had an immediate positive response to the product . We just finished the fall 2009 season, and J Brand’s business continues to grow and prosper.”

J Brand represents Star’s first invest ment. Star was formed to invest in up-and-coming consumer branded businesses to which the collective Star partnership would bring strategic value. Star’s investment in J Brand was funded by a group of third-party strategic and institutional investors,  including a co-investment by private equity firm Genuity Capital Partners. In conjunction with Star’s investment, Peter Boneparth, a senior advisor to Irving Place Capital and the former CEO of Jones Apparel Group, will become Chairman of J Brand. The Star venture and partnership with CAA enhances Irving Place Capital’s already strong consumer and retail franchise.

Terence Bogan, Vice President, Divisional Merchandising Manager for Women’s CO-OP at Barneys, commented, “We are very gratified by the business Barneys has developed with J Brand over the years . Jeff and his J Brand team have given Barneys the ability to offer our clients the best assortment of product available in the marketplace. Through a challenging economic climate, J Brand continues to exceed sales expect atio ns. We look forward to our continued success in building an increasingly meaningful J Brand business.”

The Sage Group served as exclusive financial advisor to J Brand