St. John Knits International Inc., commonly referred as St. John, is an upscale American fashion brand that specializes in womens knitwear founded in 1962 by Robert and Marie Gray. The company is best known for its classic wool and rayon yarn knits, Chanel inspired jackets, and extensive use of primary colors. St. John was founded in 1963 by former model Marie St John and her husband Robert Gray. While working in Los Angeles as a model, St John hand knit simple straight knit skirts and matching short sleeved tops for her own use. Her designs proved popular among her fellow models and she began designing and producing samples. Her fiancé at the time, Robert Gray, showed the designs to local retailer Bullocks who ordered 84 dresses. St John and Gray hired their mothers and another knitter and quickly set about production. The couple, now married, divided duties over the fledgling Irvine, CA business. St John designed the clothes and oversaw production while Gray handled the marketing and sales. Their collections included tailored suits and dresses as well as casual sportswear. In 1990, Escada, formed by another husband and wife team Margaretha and Wolfgang Ley, purchased an 80% stake in St John Knits for $45 million. St John Knits used the funding to launch its own boutique stores. St John became a publicly owned company in 1993, with St John and Gray retaining 20% of the company. St John continued to manage the creative direction of the company while Gray served as CEO and Chairman of the Board. Their daughter, Kelly Gray, was appointed President of the company in 1996, ascending to the CEO position after her fathers retirement in 2002. The Grays left St John Knits in 2005 when the company was purchased by a private equity firm. The pair were brought back only two years later as creative consultants after a series of disappointing collections and declining sales.