CAA Rolls Fashion Clients Into Licensing Group; Founder Mitch Grossbach to Exit (Exclusive)

Three agents transitioning out after two years of building CAA's fashion presence

CAA is streamlining its 2-year-old fashion department by transitioning existing clients into the licensing/intellectual properties group, a move that forces the exit of founder Mitch Grossbach and two agents he hired, TheWrap has learned.

The decision was made earlier this summer, and Grossbach has been actively seeking another agency home for his team, which includes agents Matthew Hunt and Martin Dolfi.

Clients they brought to CAA included Francisco Costa, Women's Creative Director of Calvin Klein Collection; high-end womenswear brand Marchesa; clothier Rag & Bone; and several others. Whether Grossbach's stable of clients would follow his team elsewhere wasn't immediately clear.

Also read: Who's Afraid to Leave CAA? Surprising String of Departures at Top Agency in Town

Grossbach, with ties in the fashion world through his time at Ford Models and Full Picture, was hired in February 2011 to launch the new division at CAA. But much of the work it did – matching fashion icons with brands and other CAA clients and negotiating their deals – fell into the brand licensing and IP group, where those deals will be serviced going forward, a person with knowledge of the situation told TheWrap.

Grossbach did not respond to a request for comment, and CAA had no comment.

Grossbach, who reports directly to Bryan Lourd and Kevin Huvane, has been quietly passing around a PowerPoint deck, obtained by TheWrap, in search of another agency. Labeled "Fashion … Agency Expansion Opportunity,” the document details his team’s efforts at CAA over the past 24 months.

Grossbach’s PowerPoint says his team signed more than 25 clients in the first 24 months, including fashion brands, their designers and creative directors, stylists, artists, fashion media pros and others – pairing them with media opportunities, commercial endorsements, licensing, sponsorships and new business creation.

"Every client has been the benefactor of at least one deal since joining our roster," the document says.