ST. LOUIS — A St. Louis fashion company and the development team behind City Foundry STL are collaborating to acquire a New York clothing brand that will specialize in helping social media influencers create their fashion lines.
Soulard-based Stars Design Group and St. Louis father-son development team Steve and Will Smith have acquired New York-based INSPR, which will produce limited-edition clothing collections designed by “influencers,” a new type of celebrity created by social media of people primarily on Instagram, TikTok or YouTube who have either large groups of followers or are popular in niche categories.
Headquartered in St. Louis with its office staying in New York, INSPR will relaunch this fall with new limited edition influencer collections that will be sold through the INSPR website, insprny.com. The terms of the acquisition, which was completed last year ahead of this fall’s INSPR relaunch, were not disclosed. The New York company had five full-time employees ahead of the takeover along with part-time and contracted employees, but most of the work for the brand was done this year by Stars Design Group employees. Ahead of the relaunch, there will be six direct hires for INSPR and two contracts with St. Louis marketing agencies.
The relaunched company will promote the brands of influencers across the globe. Under the acquisition, INSPR co-founder and former CEO Chantel Waterbury moves into the role of president, with Stars Design Group CEO Bret Schnitker serving as CEO of both companies. Will Smith, who is managing director of investments and asset management at real estate development company New + Found, will also serve as treasurer of the new INSPR.
Although the primary designer for INSPR is based in New York, production designers for the new fashion lines will be based in St. Louis. Founded in 2018, INSPR previously created its own clothing lines, but will now work with social media influencers to bring their own brands to life.
Although it may not seem like an obvious choice for real estate developers known for rehabilitating older buildings like City Foundry to move into the fashion world, the plan eventually is to sell INSPR influencers’ fashion designs in brick-and-mortar stores, which is where the Smiths come in.
Steve Smith is CEO of the architecture and design firm Lawrence Group. The partnership builds on Lawrence Group’s long list of retail design for nationwide clients such as eyewear retailer Warby Parker and Blue Bottle Coffee, Will Smith told the Business Journal.
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