Laying the groundwork for the expansion of 1017 Alyx 9SM, Hong Kong entrepreneur Adrian Cheng has taken a majority stake in Matthew M. Williams’ vibrant company label.
This confirms a Sept. 11 WWD report that Cheng has targeted an investment in the Milan-based fashion house, which plans to move to Paris as it plans to open its first boutiques and tap into high-potential categories.
Revealing the transaction exclusively to WWD, Williams expressed enthusiasm that the business partnership should allow his brand to accelerate its development, hire more staff and expand its offering of accessories, shoes and jewelry in particular.
He said Paris would likely be the location of the first 1017 Alyx 9SM boutique, with New York, London, Los Angeles and Tokyo also considered priorities.
“These are the cities I visit often and I have an appetite for an Alyx store,” he said.
In a telephone interview, Cheng said his investment in Alyx was made through a new private vehicle that he described as a “lifestyle platform” spanning from fashion to entertainment.
He said the plan is to “strategically invest in cutting-edge designers and companies that redefine the boundaries of fashion” and those that “cross-pollinate fashion with art and music, community and culture.”
“It’s time to nurture young, creative and innovative talent, so I see this investment as a testament to the transformative power of fashion,” he added.
As CEO of New World Development and founder of K11 Group, Cheng pioneered the concept of “cultural retail” in Asia, incorporating art, craft and fashion exhibitions into many of his developments.
He said Williams embodies “a spirit of innovation that I passionately support.”
While Williams is most often in the media spotlight as creative director of Givenchy in Paris, he also adores the 1017 Alyx 9SM, which he recently showed in Milan during Men’s Fashion Week.
Established in 2015, the Coed brand is known for its industrial-hued and utilitarian appeal, realized with high-quality materials and modern craftsmanship. It is perhaps best known for its iconic roller coaster buckle, which appears on clothing, bags and shoes.
Williams also uses Alyx as a platform for recurring collaborations with Nike, Moncler and Audemars Piguet.
“It’s a lifetime project and it’s so personal. It’s named after my daughter,” Williams told WWD in a 2021 interview.
The numbers in the brand’s moniker refer to the designer’s date of birth and the abbreviation of Williams’ first studio on Saint Mark’s Place in New York.
The American designer, now 38, created Alyx as a 50-50 partnership with Italian streetwear guru Luca Benini of Slam Jam.
“Luca remains as a minority shareholder. I’m also selling some of my stock,” Williams told WWD. “There are also large capital injections into the business.”
Financial details were not disclosed.
In the interview, Williams expressed her gratitude to Benini and Slam Jam “for believing in me before anyone else and for helping me and Alix get to this point.”
Born in Chicago and raised in the vibrant skate culture of Pismo Beach, California, Williams is a self-taught designer. He began his career in fashion manufacturing, making a name for himself as Lady Gaga’s creative director. He counts Dior and Fendi designer Kim Jones among his professional godfathers.
Conceived as a brand attuned to cultural undercurrents like Berlin’s techno scene, Alyx made its runway debut at Paris Fashion Week with a coed show in June 2018. It’s available at such retailers as Ssense, Dover Street Market , Antonioli, LuisaViaRoma, Printemps, End, Browns and Selfridges.
“The brand changes with me,” Williams explained. “I think as a creative person and someone who’s making a product for today, that’s naturally going to change, right? And as a creator, it’s important to reflect the world we live in today.”
The designer takes a long-term view, noting that Giorgio Armani created his brand in his 40s and remains independent almost 50 years later.
“I feel like I’m constantly getting better at what I do. I think there’s a lot more to say and a really bright future,” he said.
Cheng is a third-generation scion of one of Asia’s biggest business dynasties, from property development, hotels and department stores to blockchain startups.
Mainly known for his ambitious urban development projects such as Hong Kong’s Victoria Dockside cultural district, Cheng is also a fashion enthusiast who sits front row at Paris Fashion Week and is among Chanel’s rare male clients.
He makes investments through various vehicles, including C Capital, a hedge fund he co-founded in 2017. Since then, C Capital has invested in more than 60 “disruptive businesses in the consumer, technology and blockchain sectors globally,” according to its website. His portfolio includes Casetify, Bandier, Beautycon, Shein, Moda Operandi, Dazed Media, Not Just a Label and Tagwalk.
New World Development is a massive enterprise with tentacles that extend into education, healthcare, insurance, aircraft leasing and crypto. But its three core businesses are property development, hospitality and retail, including 27 New World department stores, the giant Chow Tai Fook jewelery and watch chain, plus luxury retailer Luxba Group.