Society Brands, an ecommerce aggregator built for and by founders, today announced the acquisition of Orange County-based Barnesmith, a leading global brand in the authentic collegiate apparel space. Offering a line of high-quality apparel for nearly 150 schools and growing, Barnesmith features premium, officially licensed designs that capture the tradition and culture of America’s top colleges.
“We’re so proud to have Barnesmith become part of the Society Brands portfolio,” said Eric Barnes, Founder and Brand President of Barnesmith. “When considering partnering with Society Brands, I wanted to align with a team that would provide stewardship and support for our company into the future. Society Brands has a unique model that allows our team to keep executing and growing the brand but provides a platform of support services and a portfolio of ecommerce peer collaboration that no other buyer or aggregator could have offered. In addition, Barnesmith will now be able to expand to more universities and colleges across the country and into other clothing sectors.”
Barnesmith was founded in 2001 by Eric Barnes, an entrepreneur who established an ultra-premium line of college apparel that celebrates the pursuit of college students everywhere. The Barnesmith brand story dates back to 1986 at Princeton University, when Barnes was a freshman struggling to pay his college tuition, he conceived and began selling t-shirts on campus from dorm to dorm. Since those early days, Barnesmith has become one of the largest collegiate apparel companies in the U.S.
Throughout Barnes’ development of the company, he has worked together with his wife, Stacey (Smith) Barnes, who has helped fill several gaps needed to grow the company. A graduate of Penn State University, Stacey spent her early career working in the NBA. Shortly after graduate school, Eric and Stacey moved to Aliso Viejo and decided to expand products beyond the company’s original eight Ivy League schools. So, Eric and Stacey combined their last names to create Barnesmith, an aspirational collegiate brand that would feature licensed designs with all of America’s top colleges.
With the acquisition by Society Brands, Barnesmith is positioned to expand to over 300 colleges and offer additional clothing lines, including branded hats, pants, and ties to college fans. Eric will assume the role of Brand President, continuing to lead the Barnesmith team as it grows its product portfolio and expand into new universities and channels. This move reflects Society Brands’ unique “founder-friendly” business model, where founders have the option to stay on board with their brand and be part of a community of like-minded entrepreneurs.
“We are excited to have Eric and Barnesmith join the ‘society’ as we continue acquiring brands with great foundations and great founders,” said Michael Sirpilla, CEO of Society Brands. “Eric is a veteran of the Amazon and ecommerce space and has strong skills in marketing, product development, and sourcing that will be an important asset to the community of like-minded entrepreneurs we are building.”
Since its first institutional capital raise of $205M led by i80 Group in March of this year, Society Brands now has six brands in its portfolio, spanning across a variety of consumer product categories. The ecommerce aggregator is continuing to expand its portfolio and accelerate growth as they’ve seen success with their “founder-friendly” business model.
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