There are endless threads to pull on this Naadam-D.T.C. roll-up-gone-wrong story with Matt Scanlan, who, as I recently reported, is in hot water with several of his business partners. Here’s yet another twist, featuring the biggest so-called success story of the pandemic.
Scanlan, a serial fashion entrepreneur, is best known for launching Naadam about a decade ago with his Dickinson College friend Diederik Rijsemus. Their mission was to sell cashmere to the masses, directly to the consumer at a fraction of the price of competitors. As the legend goes, Scanlan traveled to the Gobi Desert in 2015, with two plastic bags filled with $2 million in cash to pay suppliers. Of course, it was a perfect story for Scanlan, and perfect timing for Naadam to raise money off the success of first-gen D.T.C. labels, like Warby Parker, Everlane, and Glossier. In 2018, Scanlan announced a $16 million Series A, with investors including Torch Capital (a fund backed by billionaire Silas Chou, of Tommy Hilfiger and Michael Kors fame), Vanterra Capital, and U-Start, a club for private investors.
Scanlan, who grew up in Westport and attended Pomfret, a second-tier boarding school a couple of hours away, was always a talented networker, with a knack for making the right friends, including Rijsmeus, the jet-setting Dutchman he met in college, and Bill Mitchell, a local clothing chain scion who provided their company with early help. Along the way, he was able to raise money not only from Chou (another fashion industry heir) but also Untitled, co-founded by Josh Rowan (son of Apollo C.E.O. Marc Rowan), who is also an investor in French-preppy label Officine Générale.