Reliance Brands, the brand licensing arm of Reliance Industries, will invest in MM Styles Private Ltd., which owns the designer’s eponymous brand, endorsements, and licensing and intellectual property (IP) rights.

As part of a strategy to accelerate the 16-year-old couture-house’s growth plans in India and abroad, Reliance Brands will buy a 40 per cent stake in fashion designer Manish Malhotra’s organisation.

Reliance will take Manish Malhotra’s brand global. Manish will continue to lead the brand as its managing and creative director.

As per reports, this is the first external investment for the brand, which had so far been privately held by the designer since it was founded in 2005. The company did not disclose the deal size.

Isha Ambani, Director, Reliance Retail Ventures Ltd., holding company of all retail companies in Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) said, “Recognition and appreciation for Indian couture is at an inflexion point globally and we are excited to partner in this journey with Manish. Our strategic partnership with Manish Malhotra is anchored on our immense respect for his craft and our deep commitment to Indian art and culture. Being an entrepreneur, Manish the man behind the brand, has always been nimble and ahead of his times.”

Manish Malhotra has a team of 700 artisans and professionals that creates the popular namesake brand in fashion and movie entertainment. The brand’s luxury-retail footprint includes four flagship stores in Mumbai, New Delhi and Hyderabad, two shop-in-shops, a virtual store and over 12 million social followers across various channels.

Manish commented on this development, “The collaboration with Reliance Brands Ltd. was a natural decision for me, as it represents both Reliance’s astute vision and the family’s deep affinity for crafts and culture. As the brand aims for international expansion, business diversification and renewed creative growth, there could have been no better strategic partner to accompany us on this journey.”

Reliance Brands is India’s largest luxury retailer and it has a portfolio of nearly five dozen international brands that span across the luxury, bridge-to-luxury, high-premium and high-street lifestyle segments.

Over the past two years, Aditya Birla Fashion & Retail Ltd. has acquired two designer-owned companies: a 51 per cent stake in Sabyasachi Couture, the company founded by fashion designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee, and Finesse International Design that sells bespoke apparel retail brand Shantanu & Nikhil.

Experts feel that the companies have increasingly realised that they have to create an Indian brand especially in the ethnicwear space compared to western fashion which they have been selling all these years.