The Seoul-based online fashion platform Musinsa has raised $130 million in a series C funding round headed by the global investment firm KKR.
The capital infusion also includes support from Wellington Management. Executives there did not respond to a media request Wednesday.
Musinsa emerged on the digital scene in 2001 as a sneakerhead-centric destination. In the past 22 years, the company has evolved to feature local and global designer brands — more than 14,000 in total. The digital specialist offers fashion, beauty and lifestyle products and caters to 20 million members. In addition to selling branded and designer merchandise, shoppers can find the South Korean company’s in-house label Musinsa Standard.
To build on its base of sneaker-adoring shoppers, Musinsa has welcomed more communities to its platform. K-fashion and K-beauty are specialties for Musinsa, thanks to resources like Andersson Bell and Oddtype cosmetics.
In an effort to help foster new talent, there is also the incubator program Musinsa Partners, a direct-to-consumer brand operator, and an offline lounge called Musinsa Terrace. That physical space is meant to encourage IRL interactions and to give online brands a place to set up pop-up shops and to interact with consumers.
The transaction is KKR’s first technology growth investment in Korea and is in line with its Asia Next Generation Technology strategy. That initiative focuses on the growth of innovative companies that specialize in software, consumer technology and FinTech in Asia Pacific.
Musinsa is the latest fashion-related investment for KKR in the past year. In March, KKR-Accel made what was described at that time as a “significant capital investment” in the retail workforce management specialist StoreForce. Last October, KKR took a minority stake in the skin care and body care company SkinSpirit. A KKR spokeswoman declined to reveal the amount of either of those investments Wednesday, citing company policy.
In 2021, KKR invested $95 million in Lenskart, an omnichannel eyewear retailer in India. A few years ago Coty sold its professional division including Wella, OPI and Clairol, to KKR. The $2.5 billion transaction gave the private equity firm 60 percent control over a joint venture. Coty then owned the other 40 percent, which at the time was valued at $1.3 billion. More recently, Coty revealed Tuesday that it plans to sell a 3.6 percent stake in Wella to IGF Wealth Management for $150 million.
Musinsa’s $130 million fundraising is its third round, having lined up 130 billion Korean won ($102.5 million) in a 2021 series B round and prior to that a 2019 series A round of 100 billion Korean won ($78.8 million). With the series C funding locked up, the aim is to have Musinsa reach next-level growth by leveraging KKR’s international network, operational knowhow and technological experience, according to Mukul Chawla, partner and head of growth equity, Asia Pacific for KKR.
Other companies that have gained from KKR-managed funds, as part of its Asia NGT strategy are Advanced Navigation, an Australia-based developer of AI-powered robotics and navigation technology; Privy, an Indonesia-headquartered digital identity provider in Indonesia; GrowSari, a business-to-business e-commerce platform catering to small and medium enterprises in the Philippines; KiotViet, a software platform for SMEs in Vietnam, and NetStars, the operator of Japan’s leading QR code payment gateway.
In a statement, Chawla referenced Musinsa’s ability to scale up emerging brands, support the creator economy for fashion, engage consumers and provide a high-quality e-commerce experience for customers. “We see enormous opportunity for Musinsa to build on its leading position in a fast-growing K-fashion market that continues to shift online and expand globally on the back of K-culture’s explosive reach,” Chawla said.
In turn, Musinsa’s chief executive officer Munil Han said in a statement, “With this latest investment, Musinsa looks to continue scaling our platform and creating new standards of success in the online and offline markets with domestic and foreign brands.”