Thursday, May 30, 2024

S’pore-founded brand Aupen attracts investor interest

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Aupen, the viral bag brand founded in Singapore and carried by celebrities including American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift, is on the brink of a major milestone.

The Straits Times understands that it recently received investor interest from major European fashion conglomerates H&M Group and Prada Group, as well as private equity firms.

In response to queries from ST, a spokesperson for Aupen confirmed that H&M approached the brand, but it “cannot comment on Prada Group”.

This marks one of the rare few times a Singapore-founded fashion brand has attracted investment from a major fashion conglomerate.

In 2011, LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy) invested a 20 per cent stake in home-grown accessories brand Charles & Keith, although those shares have since been bought back.

Aupen is currently independently funded.

The news comes on the heels of Aupen suddenly wiping out its Instagram page to announce the departure of its current design team. The page, which has 47,000 followers, was wiped clean on May 10 save for three posts, which led many to falsely believe that the brand is closing.

The design team is merely taking a break, clarified the spokesperson, and the brand and operations will continue running.

A check on Aupen’s website shows that all except one style are out of stock, though the spokesperson confirmed that all current styles are still being sold and will be restocked most likely in June.

“We will not launch new styles until further notice. As a brand, we’re not trying to chase collection after collection – we prioritise the real luxury ethos of timelessness,” the spokesperson said, adding that over the weekend, the announcement prompted the sale of “thousands of bags”.

The dramatic move echoes social media blackouts sometimes pulled by global brands preceding a change of rein or singers announcing a new album. Swift, a fan of Aupen herself, is one notorious for employing this move.

Publicity stunt or not, Aupen sure knows how to grab public attention.

With an international design team based in Singapore and the United States, the brand has been worn by a bevy of American A-listers – from singers Beyonce and Olivia Rodrigo to model and social media personality Hailey Bieber.

It garnered mainstream attention in October 2023 when Swift was photographed in a “hard launch” of her boyfriend, American pro footballer Travis Kelce, casually carrying Aupen’s Nirvana bag in Noir.

The brand’s bags – available in a combination of real and faux leather – range from $244 to $569.

Despite its global popularity, the team behind Aupen has chosen to remain anonymous. Its spokesperson added: “I want the brand to represent conscious luxury, not just endless buying.”

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