The US subsidiary of Japanese lingerie manufacturer Wacoal Holdings Corp is to acquire direct-to-consumer innerwear disruptor Intimates Online for US$85m in a move that gives it a new reach into the millennial market.

Best known for its Lively size inclusive lingerie  brand, Intimates Online was launched in 2016 by Victoria's Secret executive Michelle Cordeiro Grant. The company has built a community of over 80,000 ambassadors through social networking and digital media marketing, and also operates retail stores in New York and Chicago. 

To date, Lively has raised US$15m in venture capital funding, including a $6.5m Series A investment from GGV Capital, NF Ventures (Gelmart International), and former Nautica CEO Harvey Sanders. The firm's first investor was NF Ventures, led by Gelmart International, the intimate apparel manufacturer, which built a factory for Lively to help streamline its supply chain, support-innovation, and flexibility for scale.

The acquisition by Wacoal International, parent of Wacoal America, will see Grant remain in her role as CEO and will position both companies to compete in the evolving intimates market.

Wacoal Intenational says Lively brings an "expansive community of engaged millennial customers," which differ from its current base, enabling both brands to capture future growth through e-commerce and digital marketing. Lively will also gain access to Wacoal's design and manufacturing resources and distribution channels, with plans to expand outside the United States through the Wacoal International group network.

"The Lively brand has worldwide business potential that may be achieved with Wacoal corporate support globally," says Bob Vitale, president and CEO of Wacoal America.

"As one of the digitally native brands that are positively disrupting the US intimates' business, Lively has quickly established an incredible following. Our collaboration with Lively will no doubt result in dramatic sales growth and market share gains in the Americas, enabling both brands to engage and win the important millennial customer, and market more effectively in the evolving digital world."

While Wacoal America focuses on fit, quality, and comfort for a wide range of body types from petites through I cup, Lively is establishing what it describes as "an entirely new category of lingerie, a movement that we call Leisurée" with bras and undies "that blur the aesthetic lines of lingerie, active, and swim and loungewear."