Who owns St. John Knits?

Who owns St. John Knits?

When it comes to luxury fashion brands, their ownership can play a significant role in shaping their identity and direction. One such brand is St. John Knits, known for their high-quality knitwear and sophisticated designs. But who exactly owns St. John Knits? In this article, we will delve into the ownership of this iconic fashion brand and explore the individuals and companies behind its success.

St. John Knits was founded in 1962 by husband and wife duo Marie and Robert Gray. With a vision to create elegant and timeless knitwear, they established the brand in a small boutique in California. Over the years, St. John Knits gained recognition for its exceptional craftsmanship and attention to detail, attracting the attention of affluent customers and celebrities alike.

In 1999, the ownership of St. John Knits changed hands when it was acquired by Vestar Capital Partners, a private equity firm based in New York. Under Vestar’s ownership, the brand experienced growth and expansion, reaching a broader global audience. However, in 2005, Vestar sold a majority stake in St. John Knits to another private equity firm, J.H. Partners, which specialized in the luxury industry.

Dauphin Holdings LLC: The Current Owner of St. John Knits

In the world of luxury fashion brands, ownership can often change hands as investors and companies see opportunities for growth and expansion. St. John Knits, a renowned luxury fashion brand specializing in knitwear, is no exception to this trend. Currently, St. John Knits is owned by Dauphin Holdings LLC.

Dauphin Holdings LLC is a private investment firm that focuses on acquiring and operating companies in various industries, including fashion and retail. The firm was founded in 2002 and is based in New York City, with additional offices in Miami and Los Angeles. Dauphin Holdings LLC takes a long-term approach to investments and aims to partner with companies that have strong growth potential.

As the current owner of St. John Knits, Dauphin Holdings LLC has been instrumental in steering the brand towards continued success and expansion. Under their ownership, St. John Knits has undergone strategic initiatives to enhance its brand image, expand its product offerings, and strengthen its presence in the luxury fashion market.

One significant milestone during Dauphin Holdings LLC’s ownership was the appointment of Zoe Turner as the brand’s creative director in 2019. Turner brings a wealth of experience in luxury fashion, having previously held design roles at iconic brands such as Burberry and Max Mara. Her appointment has brought a fresh perspective to St. John Knits, infusing the brand with a contemporary yet still timeless aesthetic.

In addition to creative direction, Dauphin Holdings LLC has also focused on optimizing St. John Knits’ operations and supply chain. By streamlining processes and exploring innovative manufacturing techniques, the brand has been able to maintain its commitment to high-quality craftsmanship while also increasing efficiency.

Furthermore, Dauphin Holdings LLC has recognized the importance of digital transformation in the luxury fashion industry and has invested in enhancing St. John Knits’ online presence. The brand’s website has been redesigned to offer a seamless online shopping experience, and its e-commerce capabilities have been strengthened to cater to the growing demand for online shopping.

Overall, Dauphin Holdings LLC’s ownership of St. John Knits has ushered in a new era of growth and innovation for the luxury fashion brand. With a focus on creativity, operational excellence, and digital transformation, Dauphin Holdings LLC continues to drive St. John Knits forward as a leader in the luxury knitwear market.

The Journey of St. John Knits: From Founding to Acquisition

St. John Knits, a luxury fashion brand known for its elegant and high-quality knitwear, has gone through an interesting journey from its founding to its acquisition. Let’s take a closer look at the key milestones in the brand’s history.

  • 1962: Marie Gray and her husband, Robert Gray, founded St. John Knits in Southern California. The brand initially started as a small-scale knitting operation, with Marie creating knitted dresses and selling them to local department stores.
  • 1972: St. John Knits introduced its signature Santana knit, a wool-blend fabric known for its wrinkle-resistance and stretch. The Santana knit became a trademark of the brand and played a significant role in its success.
  • 1980s: St. John Knits expanded its product range to include suits, separates, and accessories, while maintaining its focus on knitwear. The brand gained popularity among affluent women who appreciated the luxurious fabrics and sophisticated designs.
  • 1990s: St. John Knits became a red carpet favorite, with celebrities such as Angelina Jolie, Kate Winslet, and Oprah Winfrey wearing its designs to high-profile events. The brand’s elegant and timeless aesthetic resonated with Hollywood’s elite.
  • 2000: Marie Gray stepped down as CEO of St. John Knits, passing the leadership to her daughter, Kelly Gray. The transition marked a new era for the brand, with Kelly bringing fresh ideas and a modern perspective.
  • 2005: The Gray family sold a majority stake in St. John Knits to Vestar Capital Partners, a private equity firm. The acquisition provided the brand with additional resources to expand further and solidify its position in the luxury fashion market.
  • 2012: St. John Knits celebrated its 50th anniversary, a testament to the brand’s longevity and enduring appeal. The milestone was marked with special collections and events that honored the brand’s heritage and craftsmanship.
  • 2016: St. John Knits underwent another ownership change when Vestar Capital Partners sold the majority stake to Fosun International Limited, a Chinese investment company. The acquisition brought St. John Knits under the global umbrella of Fosun’s luxury portfolio.
  • Present: St. John Knits continues to create luxurious knitwear and sophisticated designs for women around the world. With the support of Fosun International Limited, the brand is expanding its presence globally and exploring new opportunities in the luxury fashion industry.

The journey of St. John Knits demonstrates the brand’s ability to adapt to changing market trends while staying true to its core values of quality, elegance, and craftsmanship. As it continues to evolve under new ownership, St. John Knits remains a symbol of timeless luxury in the fashion world.

Exclusive Ownership: St. John Knits as a Privately Held Company

St. John Knits, a luxury fashion brand known for its timeless elegance and impeccable craftsmanship, is an exclusive company with privately held ownership. Unlike publicly traded companies that offer shares of stock to the general public, St. John Knits is owned by a select group of individuals and entities.

The company was originally founded in 1962 by Robert and Marie Gray, who started the business with a simple knitting machine and a vision to create high-quality knitwear. Over the years, St. John Knits has grown into a globally recognized brand, known for its signature Santana knit, classic silhouettes, and refined details.

As a privately held company, St. John Knits has the advantage of being able to make decisions without the pressure and scrutiny of public shareholders. This allows the company to maintain a more long-term focus and strategic approach to its operations, as it doesn’t have to prioritize short-term financial performance to please investors.

The ownership structure of St. John Knits includes various stakeholders, such as the Gray family, who continue to be actively involved in the business. The family’s commitment to preserving the brand’s heritage and values has been instrumental in maintaining the company’s reputation as a luxury fashion powerhouse.

In addition to the Gray family, St. John Knits also has several high-profile investors, including private equity firms and individual investors who have a keen interest in the fashion industry. These investors bring valuable expertise and resources to the table, helping to fuel the brand’s growth and expansion.

One of the benefits of being a privately held company is the ability to maintain a tight control over the brand’s image and identity. St. John Knits has been able to cultivate a sense of exclusivity and luxury, catering to a discerning clientele who appreciate the brand’s sophisticated aesthetic and attention to detail.

While the ownership of St. John Knits may be exclusive, the brand itself has achieved widespread recognition and success in the luxury fashion market. Through a combination of exceptional design, exceptional products, and a commitment to quality, St. John Knits has established itself as a leader in the industry, and its exclusive ownership structure has played a significant role in its continued success.

In conclusion, as a privately held company, St. John Knits maintains exclusive ownership and benefits from the ability to make decisions with a long-term focus. With a dedicated team of stakeholders, including the Gray family and other high-profile investors, St. John Knits continues to thrive as a luxury fashion brand known for its elegance and craftsmanship.

The Role of Private Equity: St. John Knits and its Investors

Private equity plays a significant role in the ownership and growth of luxury fashion brands like St. John Knits. As a luxury brand known for its high-quality knitwear and tailored designs, St. John Knits has attracted the attention of various private equity firms seeking to invest in the fashion industry.

Private equity firms are investment companies that pool capital from investors, such as pension funds or wealthy individuals, and use it to acquire stakes in companies. These firms typically seek to maximize the value of their investments by actively participating in the management and operations of the companies they own.

In the case of St. John Knits, private equity firms have played a pivotal role in its ownership structure and strategic direction. Over the years, the brand has been owned by several private equity firms, each bringing their expertise and resources to enhance the brand’s growth and profitability.

One notable private equity firm that has been involved with St. John Knits is Vestar Capital Partners. In 1999, Vestar acquired a majority stake in the company, providing the capital needed to support its expansion plans. Vestar worked closely with St. John Knits’ management team to strengthen its supply chain, streamline its operations, and bolster its marketing efforts.

Another private equity firm that has played a significant role in St. John Knits’ ownership is Leonard Green & Partners. In 2010, Leonard Green & Partners acquired a majority stake in the company from Vestar Capital Partners. The firm’s investment helped fuel St. John Knits’ international expansion and further strengthen its position as a leading luxury fashion brand.

Private equity ownership has allowed St. John Knits to tap into the expertise and resources of these firms. The firms’ deep industry knowledge and experience in scaling businesses have helped St. John Knits navigate the competitive fashion industry and capitalize on emerging market trends.

Moreover, the involvement of private equity firms has brought strategic and financial discipline to St. John Knits. These firms have implemented rigorous financial monitoring and reporting systems, ensuring that the company maintains strong financial health and achieves its growth objectives.

However, it is worth noting that private equity ownership can also bring challenges. The pressure to generate returns for investors may lead to short-term decision-making or a focus on cost-cutting measures that could potentially compromise the brand’s long-term vision and integrity.

In conclusion, private equity has played a crucial role in the ownership and growth of St. John Knits. Through the involvement of firms like Vestar Capital Partners and Leonard Green & Partners, the brand has benefited from strategic guidance, financial resources, and expertise needed to thrive in the competitive luxury fashion industry.

Diverse Portfolio: St. John Knits and Its Sister Brands

St. John Knits, known for its luxurious and timeless knitwear, is part of a diverse portfolio of brands that cater to various fashion segments and styles. As a brand, St. John Knits has its own unique identity and target market, but it is also part of a larger fashion family that includes its sister brands.

Sister Brands:

  • St. John Sport: This sister brand focuses on more casual and sporty styles, offering knitwear and clothing that is perfect for an active lifestyle. St. John Sport captures the essence of comfort and style.
  • St. John Evening: St. John Evening is the epitome of elegance and sophistication. This sister brand offers beautiful eveningwear and cocktail dresses that are perfect for special occasions and formal events.
  • St. John Collection: St. John Collection is the core brand of the St. John portfolio. It embodies the classic St. John Knits aesthetic with its luxurious knitwear and tailored separates.

These sister brands, along with St. John Knits, form a comprehensive fashion portfolio that caters to a wide range of styles and occasions. Whether customers are looking for everyday casual wear, glamorous evening attire, or timeless and sophisticated knitwear, the St. John family of brands has something to offer.


In addition to its sister brands, St. John Knits has also collaborated with other fashion designers and brands to create special collections that bring together different creative visions. These collaborations often result in unique and limited-edition pieces that add a new dimension to the St. John Knits brand.


St. John Knits, with its diverse portfolio of sister brands and collaborations, continues to be a prominent and influential player in the luxury fashion industry. By offering a range of styles and catering to various fashion segments, St. John Knits ensures that it remains relevant and accessible to a wide range of customers.

Ownership Changes: A Look at the Previous Owners of St. John Knits

Over the years, St. John Knits has seen several changes in ownership, which have had a significant impact on the brand’s direction and success in the luxury fashion industry. Let’s take a closer look at the previous owners of St. John Knits:

  1. Marie and Robert Gray (1962-1989): The journey of St. John Knits began when Marie and Robert Gray acquired a small knitting mill in Southern California in 1962. They transformed the company into a luxury knitwear brand known for its innovative designs and timeless elegance. Under their ownership, St. John Knits gained popularity among affluent women who appreciated the brand’s high-quality craftsmanship.
  2. Vision Capital (1999-2006): In 1999, St. John Knits was sold to Vision Capital, a private equity firm based in London. Vision Capital aimed to expand the brand’s global presence and capitalize on its strong reputation as a luxury knitwear manufacturer. During this period, St. John Knits opened stores in major cities around the world, boosting its international sales and visibility.
  3. Investcorp (2006-2019): Investcorp, a global investment firm, acquired St. John Knits from Vision Capital in 2006. They aimed to further grow the brand’s global footprint and strengthen its position in the luxury fashion market. Investcorp implemented various strategic initiatives, including collaborations with renowned designers and celebrities, to enhance the brand’s appeal among a broader customer base.
  4. Authentic Brands Group (2019-present): In 2019, Authentic Brands Group (ABG) acquired St. John Knits from Investcorp. ABG, a brand development and marketing company, focuses on maximizing the value of its portfolio of brands. With its expertise in brand management, ABG aims to leverage St. John Knits’ heritage and iconic status to expand its reach in the luxury fashion market.

The ownership changes of St. John Knits reflect the brand’s evolution and adaptability in a highly competitive industry. Each owner has brought their unique vision and strategies to enhance the brand’s growth and maintain its luxury status. As St. John Knits continues to thrive under the ownership of Authentic Brands Group, it will be exciting to see how the brand evolves and continues to captivate fashion enthusiasts worldwide.

St. John Knits and International Expansion: Expanding Ownership

St. John Knits, a luxury fashion brand known for its high-quality knitwear, has been expanding its ownership beyond its original location in the United States. With a strong customer base in the US, the brand has set its sights on international markets to further grow its business and reach a wider audience.

One of St. John Knits’ strategies for international expansion has been through partnerships and collaborations with established retailers in different countries. By teaming up with local retailers who have a deep understanding of the local market, St. John Knits has been able to enter new markets with a stronger presence and a better understanding of local preferences and buying habits.

In addition to partnerships, St. John Knits has also opened standalone stores in key international locations. These stores serve as flagship locations that showcase the brand’s designs and offer a complete shopping experience to customers. By owning and operating these stores, St. John Knits has greater control over the brand’s image and customer experience, ensuring that it aligns with the brand’s values and standards.

St. John Knits’ international expansion has also been supported by its online presence. The brand has invested in an e-commerce platform that allows customers from around the world to shop its collections online. This digital expansion has opened up new opportunities for St. John Knits to reach customers in markets where it does not have a physical presence.

As St. John Knits continues to expand its ownership internationally, it faces unique challenges and opportunities. It must navigate different cultural norms, preferences, and regulations in each market, while also maintaining a consistent brand identity and quality across all locations. By carefully selecting partnerships and investing in online platforms, St. John Knits is well-positioned to continue its international expansion and reach new heights of success in the luxury fashion industry.

The Future of St. John Knits: Predictions for Ownership and Growth

The luxury fashion brand St. John Knits has a long history of catering to affluent clientele with its high-quality knitwear and classic designs. As the brand continues to evolve and adapt to the changing fashion landscape, predictions for its ownership and growth can be made.

1. Continued family ownership: St. John Knits was originally founded by Robert and Marie Gray in 1962 and has remained a family-owned and operated business ever since. It is likely that the brand will continue to be owned and managed by the Gray family in the future, ensuring a strong sense of legacy and brand continuity.

2. Expansion into international markets: St. John Knits has primarily focused on the US market, but as luxury fashion becomes increasingly globalized, the brand is likely to expand its presence in international markets. This could include opening flagship stores in major fashion capitals and partnering with luxury retailers worldwide.

3. Investment from a strategic partner: To fuel its growth and expand its market reach, St. John Knits may seek investment from a strategic partner. This could be a luxury fashion conglomerate or a private equity firm with expertise in the fashion industry. Such a partnership could bring in additional resources and industry knowledge to propel the brand forward.

4. Online expansion: With the rise of e-commerce, St. John Knits is likely to expand its online presence and invest in digital marketing strategies. This could include launching an e-commerce platform, partnering with online luxury retailers, and enhancing its social media presence to engage with a wider audience.

5. Collaborations with other luxury brands: Collaborations with other luxury brands have become a popular way for fashion brands to attract new customers and generate buzz. St. John Knits may explore partnerships with other high-end designers or luxury brands to create limited-edition collections that combine their respective aesthetics and reach new target markets.

6. Sustainability initiatives: As consumer demand for sustainable fashion continues to grow, St. John Knits may prioritize sustainability initiatives in its production processes and supply chain. This could include using eco-friendly materials, implementing ethical manufacturing practices, and promoting transparency in its operations.

In conclusion, the future of St. John Knits looks promising with potential for continued family ownership, expansion into international markets, partnerships with strategic investors, online growth, collaborations with other luxury brands, and a focus on sustainability. These predictions reflect the brand’s commitment to maintaining its legacy while embracing new opportunities for growth and innovation in the luxury fashion industry.


Who is the current owner of St. John Knits?

The current owner of St. John Knits is Fosun Fashion Group, a Chinese conglomerate.

What is the history of St. John Knits ownership?

St. John Knits was founded in 1962 by Robert and Marie Gray. The brand enjoyed success under their ownership until 1999 when it was sold to Escada, a German luxury fashion company. In 2005, St. John Knits was acquired by Vestar Capital Partners, an American private equity firm. Finally, in 2019, the brand was purchased by Fosun Fashion Group.

Why did St. John Knits change ownership multiple times?

St. John Knits changed ownership multiple times due to various factors. The initial sale to Escada in 1999 was a strategic move by the founder, Robert Gray, to expand the brand’s global reach. The subsequent sales to Vestar Capital Partners and Fosun Fashion Group were driven by different financial and market considerations, as well as the desire to capitalize on the brand’s potential for growth.

Is St. John Knits still based in the United States?

Yes, St. John Knits is still based in the United States. The brand’s headquarters is located in Irvine, California, where its design, production, and corporate operations are based.


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