It’s a done deal — the Mitchells are the new owners of Wilkes Bashford.
A bankruptcy court in San Francisco on Wednesday approved the sale of the San Francisco-based luxury specialty store to Ed Mitchell West LLC for $4.6 million in cash.
“The judge approved everything,” said Bob Mitchell, co-president of the $100 million Connecticut-based retailer that owns Mitchells in Westport, Conn., Richards in Greenwich, Conn., and Marshs in Huntington, N.Y. “There were no other bids and the creditors all supported the plan.”
The acquisition gives the Mitchells a beachhead on the West Coast, where they can be players in the luxury men’s wear sector in the San Francisco Bay area.
The Mitchells have purchased the inventory, trademark and fixtures of the business, not its liabilities. Mitchell said the creditors, which include vendors such as Brioni, Ermenegildo Zegna, Loro Piana and Bogner, are certain the family can “stabilize the business, get it back to being healthy again and move it forward.”
Tyler Mitchell, vice president of men’s buying and furnishings, is relocating to San Francisco to run the store on a daily basis. Jack Mitchell, Bob’s father and co-chairman, along with his son, Andrew, vice president of marketing, will spend two weeks at a time at the store during the transition.
Bob Mitchell said the family is not going into the acquisition with preconceived ideas. “Tyler, Andrew and my dad will be the team, but we will listen and learn,” he said. “There’s no master plan. We will hear from the customers and the associates on how to make the business bigger and stronger.”
The family is “committed” to continuing Wilkes Bashford as a luxury business. “That’s where we’ve had our success over the years,” he said. Although there are differences between the company’s existing stores and its new addition, “the similarities outweigh the differences. My dad and I have spent the last couple of days on the floor meeting customers and we’ve found that they, and the associates here, are very similar to ours.”
Many on the sales staff have been with the store for years and have created strong relationships with their customers. “You can’t duplicate that,” Mitchell said.
The associates will be supported by founder Wilkes Bashford, who will remain active in the community and on the sales floor.
“The economy is slowly improving and we’ll be delivering fresh goods starting next week,” Mitchell said.
In mid-November, Wilkes filed a voluntary Chapter 11 petition at the same time that Ed Mitchell West submitted an offer to acquire the store. Wilkes, a men’s wear institution that opened in 1966, operates a seven-story flagship on Union Square as well as a store in the Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto, Calif. Last month, the company closed its store in Carmel, Calif., and, the month before that, a Mill Valley, Calif., unit was shuttered.
In the Chapter 11 petition filed, Wilkes assets were listed as between $10 million and $50 million, with liabilities estimated in the same range.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast