Seven down in 2007 — nine more brands to divest of in 2008.
Since Liz Claiborne Inc. said on July 11 that it was putting 16 of its brands under review, the industry and investment community alike have been waiting to see how long it would take to dispose of the brands, how much they would sell for and what would happen to their brand equity given their uncertain futures.
The $4.99 billion firm accepted formal offers from what it has called "serious bidders" for the nine contemporary, better, bridge and active brands last Friday. Dealing with these higher-margin businesses has been tagged "Phase II" of the review process by the firm. Now that bids are finally in, negotiations can begin.
Claiborne has declared it will complete the review process on the remaining brands by the end of the first quarter next year, and chief executive officer William L. McComb said he is optimistic the process could be completed even sooner, based on industry interest.
According to sources, while many companies are interested in the brands — Dana Buchman, Ellen Tracy, Sigrid Olsen, Enyce, Prana, Mac & Jac, Kensie, Laundry and C&C California — fewer are interested in the hefty prices Claiborne is asking.
The conglomerate — which is holding onto its direct "power brands" Juicy Couture, Kate Spade, Lucky Brand Jeans and Mexx — is also giving preferential treatment to bidders that will buy packages, according to sources. For example, Claiborne is hoping to sell Dana Buchman, Ellen Tracy, Sigrid Olsen and other brands in one transaction, a process that has made some buyers, who want some but not all of the brands, skittish.
Companies can still bid for a single brand, though. For example, Schottenstein Stores Corp., which owns retailers including American Eagle Outfitters and Filene's Basement and which acquired Adrienne Vittadini in December of last year, put a bid in for Laundry by Design. G-III Apparel Group Ltd. is in the bidding for Ellen Tracy, said a source. G-III currently has the Ellen Tracy licenses for outerwear, as well as suits and dresses. Enyce, Prana and C&C California all also appear to have found separate strong buyers, according to a source.
Everyone from industry observers to McComb himself has agreed the sooner the process can be completed, the better for all parties. Retailers have been buying the brands' merchandise conservatively, uncertain of their new owners and distribution channels. Also, even with Claiborne's incentives to keep employees on during the review, retaining talent in times of uncertainty is always a concern.
In September, Claiborne completed "Phase I," settling the fates of its seven moderate brands. Li & Fung USA, a subsidiary of Li & Fung Ltd., bought four of Claiborne's moderate brands — Emma James, Tapemeasure, JH Collectibles and Intuitions — via its Regatta division. Li & Fung president Rick Darling has denied his company was entering a second round of bidding for additional brands.
“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