LONDON — Another historic British label has fallen victim to the credit crunch: clothing manufacturer and retailer Viyella.
The company, whose origins go back to 1784, said Wednesday that it had gone into administration, the U.K. equivalent of Chapter 11.
“Following an assessment of the current economic situation and the prospects for the future, the directors have reluctantly decided that they have no alternative but to place the business into administration,” the company said.
Viyella is owned by British firm Waterlinks Investments, whose principals are John Harris and Sue Watson. The firm is one of the country’s oldest clothing manufacturers, and its name comes from a branded blend of wool and cotton twill. The name was later given to a soft, dress-weight, flannel-like fabric made by the company.
Viyella operates 100 stores and concessions in the U.K. and employs around 450 staff. Andrew Turpin, a spokesman for insolvency firm Poppleton & Appleby, said interested buyers already had contacted him. He said that all stores would continue trading while a buyer is being sought.
Until 2003, Viyella was owned by what is now known as Coats plc, the world’s largest sewing thread producer. The then Coats Patons acquired what was Vantona Viyella in 1986 to create Coats Viyella, the U.K.’s — and one of the world’s — largest textile and apparel manufacturers. But British companies’ inability to compete with low-cost manufacturing companies saw a precipitous decline in the U.K. textile sector, and Coats dismantled its operations throughout the Nineties to focus on sewing thread. Viyella was later sold to venture capitalists Harris and Watson, who added home furnishings to the clothing ranges.
In recent weeks, companies such as Waterford Wedgwood, Woolworths, Hardy Amies, Ghost, Allegra Hicks, Marchpole, tea merchant Whittards of Chelsea and china suppliers Royal Worcester and Spode all have gone into receivership. Woolworths has closed all its stores, having failed to find a buyer, while the other firms have found or are in the process of seeking buyers.
“It’s absolutely the ailing companies going into administration,” said Edward Whitefield, chairman of MHE, a London-based retail consultancy. “Administration does not respect the age profile of customers. It serves mediocre or badly performing companies, with not enough customers spending enough money to cover their costs,” he added.
“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