Delhi-based fashion label attracts US investor

An American businessman has announced his intention to invest $5 million in an Indian fashion brand, said to be the highest investment in an Indian brand, and another $20 million to set up exclusive boutiques for the brand.

The businessman, Michael LaCasella, who was earlier involved in helping a start-up BPO in India, is investing his money this time in a new Delhi-based design label Huit Angles, which opened shop in February 2006. Owned by its creative director Sunny Mishra and, president Kapil Modi, Huit Angles has a presence in Los Angeles and Paris.

LaCasella, who has held senior management positions with leading US corporations, such as FileNet, the largest global ECM solution provider, and Earthlink, a leading US ISP, was involved in establishing international customer support centres across Europe and Asia.

The initial $5 million investment will be made in Huit Angles Inc, USA, 80 per cent of which will be owned by Mishra and Modi, and the remaining 20 per cent (with an option to increase up to 50 per cent) will be owned by LaCasella. This investment will be used exclusively to market the brand internationally. The cost of production of the collection will be borne by Huit Angles, India, in which LaCasella has no stake. An additional $20 million has been earmarked for establishing Huit Angles boutiques in the major fashion capitals from 2009 onwards.

"Ít just fell in our laps with no effort on our part," said Modi. "We had no idea about LaCasella's interest in us till we received his offer," he adds. It seems LaCasella, a veteran of the Vietnam War who made his fortune through real estate investments, learnt about the Huit Angles creations from some Hollywood associates.

"My friends, who are often paid by the top European designers to wear their garments at events such as the Oscars, are in awe of Sunny's creations," says LaCasella. "He is truly an out of the box thinker and designer. In the West, we worship originality — for us, a great copy is always a copy. Armani is who he is because of he never wanted to be a Versace, and vice versa."