Final bids for Juicy were due earlier this week, sources said. Brand management firm Authentic Brands Group and private equity group IDG Capital Partners are both said to be in the bidding. RELATED STORY: M&A Deals Simmering >>
It’s unclear whether Skaist-Levy and Nash-Taylor will be able to insert themselves into the process at this point.
But if they did reclaim the brand they built, experts said the pair — known to be “temperamental” — have the creative chops to bring some excitement back to the business.
Observers said Skaist-Levy and Nash-Taylor would need a strong operating partner to make the business run, as their strengths are on the creative side.
“They could probably reenergize [Juicy] and make it important again,” said John Henderson, a fashion veteran and director at Net Worth Solutions. “They were very creative.”
But the business today is very different than the one Skaist-Levy and Nash-Taylor founded. It is far more retail centric, with 75 specialty stores and 53 outlets.
“It would be very difficult to make it a meaningful wholesale brand again,” Henderson said. “Everybody has their matrixes now, [the brand has] been around, a lot of retailers don’t want to compete against lines that are already retail lines.”
While founders often want to return to the brands they built, who’s running the show at Juicy might not be as important as what the product looks like.
“Does it matter to the customer? I’m not quite sure. It’s been a while,” said Corinna Freedman, analyst at Wedbush Securities Inc., who covers Fifth & Pacific. “It tells a great story, it could be a redemption story.”
For the three months ended March 31, the Juicy brand posted net sales of $98.4 million. Adjusted losses before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization totaled $8.3 million. Last year, the brand had sales of $498.6 million and adjusted EBITDA of $24.5 million. Paul Blum was brought in as chief executive officer last year to lead a turnaround at the brand.
While Freedman said the brand “lost its footing because of pricing and merchandising direction,” she still sees potential in the business.
“I don’t think that the brand is as impaired as some people would like to think,” she said. “There is certainly a market. There’s this anti-Forever 21 mentality going on. The customer is making more of an investment in apparel, versus the fast-fashion commodity, buying the cheapest you can find.”
Mary Epner, who heads up Mary Epner Retail Analysis, said, “Juicy is still a great brand in spite of everything.…It still has a loyal customer base.”
Epner cited the Juicy jewelry business as a category that has been making some headway with the younger, teen consumer.
While the matched terry sweat suit hasn’t really evolved much from the brand’s launch, Epner noted, “If somebody can come in and find the right balance between a new direction coupled with an outlet strategy, that could be a winning combination.”
She also compared Juicy to Lululemon: “Consumers are interested in athletic apparel. What they want is nice-looking, comfortable apparel. They run around all day long in Lululemon. That’s what Juicy used to be. Can someone stay in the same vein and update the look for 2014? That’s the question.”
“If anyone can turn the brand around and give it back its energy, they can,” said Gary Wassner, co-ceo of Hilldun Corp., of Juicy’s founders. “They know who they are designing for. The product never evolved once they left the company.”
Wassner said the two could conceivably work on both Juicy and their new business, Skaist-Taylor.
“Skaist-Taylor is doing nicely,” Wassner noted. “It’s a higher-end collection and much more fashionable in the designer category. The two brands, while they both have a touch of rock ’n’ roll, have different price points. Skaist-Taylor is at Bergdorf and Saks.” Skaist-Taylor is a Hilldun client.
Skaist-Levy and Nash-Taylor certainly caught fire once before.
The duo founded the brand in 1997 and had a runaway hit with their signature velour tracksuit. Fifth & Pacific, then known as Liz Claiborne Inc. and headed by Paul Charron, bought the growing brand in 2003 for more than $230 million, including the assumption of debt and earn-out payments over several years, and helped turn it into a broader business.
Skaist-Levy and Nash-Taylor were copresidents of the business and transitioned to creative directors, eventually leaving the firm in January 2010.
While the official word was they wanted to do other things, there were market rumblings that the two were unhappy with the direction the brand was headed and had reportedly had clashes with Fifth & Pacific ceo William L. McComb, who took the reins from Charron in 2006.
Skaist-Levy and Nash-Taylor, who are close friends, went on to found Skaist-Taylor last year.
In yet another fashion show shuffle, @elleryland is moving its show in sync with the Paris couture calendar — though the brand is still keeping one foot on the city’s ready-to-wear schedule. Their runway show in January will coincide with the launch of a new strategy: designing two main collections each year instead of four, which will then be released in four drops. “As we all know, the system needs to change. We need to show sooner to give time back to artisans and designers to do what they do best — create,” said founder Kym Ellery. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
@maxmara’s classic 101801 coat was the cornerstone of its pre-fall 2018 collection. The design team expanded the traditional double-breasted, kimono-sleeved style into a trapeze coat, lean belted styles and a peacoat and presented them in monochromatic looks – like the camel one pictured here. #wwdfashion #prefall18 (📷: George Chinsee)
The @cfda has shifted the dates of #NYFW, with Men’s showing on February 5 through February 7, and Women’s will directly follow, running from February 8 through 14. The preliminary schedule will be released on the CFDA’s web site in the next few days, but Mark Beckham, VP of marketing for the CFDA, revealed that @rafsimons will be back to close the men’s-specific part of the week with a show on February 7 #wwdfashion (📷: Kelly Taub)
@ferragamo is introducing a new space dedicated to the development of women’s and men’s leather good samples. The laboratory, which is created eco-friendly materials and designed to reduce the environmental impact of the manufacturing processes, will allow the company to expand its accessories offering through traditional artisanal approaches. #wwdfashion (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
How does a “regular, degular, schmegular” girl from the Bronx, N.Y., become a Grammy-nominated artist with a certified platinum record in less than a year? Call it the @iamcardib come up. The 25-year-old has become a musical sensation, and the fashion world is taking note. “If I could describe her style I would say drama. She’s really into the dramatics,” says Cardi B’s stylist @kollincarter. See how Carter styles her bold and out there looks with the link in bio. #wwdfashion
“There is no formula. There is no guideline. I can watch Ted Talks all day, but there is no one who can advise me on exactly what it is I should be doing,” said @ronniefieg, CEO of @kith, in an interview with WWD’s @ariahughes at the brand’s new SoHo office in Manhattan. Head to WWD.com to see how Fieg went from hanging out in shoe stockrooms at 13 to building his own business. #wwdfashion (📷: @weston.wells)
@fearofgod and @maxfieldla have teamed up on a pop-up installation. The store, located in the gallery space across from Maxfield’s Melrose Ave location, is the site of the brand’s House of God pop-up in which Fear of God founder @jerrylorenzo has created a church-inspired installation. A dozen vintage church pews sit in front of an LED screen playing 90s gospel singers in an effort to re-create an environment akin to a Southern Baptist Church, Lorenzo explained. Read more about the pop-up on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Jennifer Johnson)
Known for his sleek, sophisticated American glamour, Norman Norell is the subject of an upcoming exhibition at @fitnyc. “Norell: Dean of American Fashion,” which runs from February 9 through April 14, will feature approximately 100 ensembles and accessories. His best work is exemplified by the designer’s glittering “mermaid” gowns frosted with thousands of hand-sewn sequins – like the one pictured. (📷: William Helburn) #wwdfashion
For pre-fall 2018, @balmain didn’t let go of the glitz. A crystal embroidered baseball jacket priced at around $40,000 hangs in the “couture” section of the brand’s first men’s pre-collection. Sporting the words “Balmain Army” across the back, the item took around two months to make. “When it was completed, it was like Christmas, it was like, ‘It’s done, it’s exactly what I wanted,’” said Balmain’s creative director @olivier_rousteing during a tour of the collection in a Paris showroom on Monday. #wwdfashion