Global Brands Group Holding Ltd. will partner with the Bebe brand to relaunch its e-commerce platform and international wholesale division.This marks the first initiative under Global Brands’ direction of Bebe’s e-commerce platform, direct-to-consumer divisions and international operations. The company has also named Nathan Jenden as creative director of the Bebe brand. Jenden, who has designed under his own label, was creative director of Diane von Furstenberg from 2001 to 2010 and has worked at Kimora Lee Simmons.Last year, Bluestar Alliance acquired the Bebe trademark for $35 million to create new licensees and product extensions for the brand, which now include licensing deals with GBG, among others.“Bebe is an iconic fashion brand with a loyal, global following,” said Sandra Campos, who was recently named president of the Bebe division at Global Brands Group. She said with Global Brands’ expertise behind them, the company sees "tremendous opportunity" to relaunch the e-commerce platform that best reflects their global customer and how she shops.Jenden added, “Bebe is one of the original brands in the world of contemporary, chic women’s fashion, which brought something new to market that wasn’t like anything we had ever seen at that time. I believe passionately in the brand’s diverse consumer who adores seductive, decorated and feminine clothes through her life 24/7, and our vision is to target her complete lifestyle from clothes to accessories and beyond.”Joseph Gabbay, chief executive officer of Bluestar Alliance, spoke about the opportunities for the Bebe brand in e-commerce and wholesale. "As we continue to build out the wholesale and department store distribution for the Bebe brand, it was a natural transition for Global Brands Group to take over the Bebe e-commerce platform. Global Brand Group has been a strategic licensee and can now seamlessly synergize the international distribution, e-commerce platform and wholesale business,” he said.The company’s efforts will focus on an omnichannel distribution approach to service and expand the Bebe customer both domestically and internationally. Bluestar will continue to manage the brand with the existing partnership remaining intact.Ralph Gindi, chief operating officer of Bluestar, noted it will be seamless transition for the e-commerce site from Bebe to GBG. “It’s an interesting opportunity for us,” he said, citing GBG's volume, reach and social interaction with the customer. GBG also has the license for Bebe’s contemporary sportswear. “It’s a reset on the brand, and we can really get to the customer on e-commerce.”He said GBG will also service all the Bebe stores internationally. The company still has more than 100 Bebe stores internationally. “We have a strong base to really grow this brand globally,” Gindi said.The Bebe sportswear collection, licensed to GBG, will be geared to better department stores, and it represents the first time Bebe will be available at wholesale.Gindi noted that a robust marketing initiative will break for the upcoming fall season. Two previous Bebe campaigns have featured model Irina Shayk, shot on the islands of Greece, and a more recent campaign with model Hailey Clauson. During festival season, Bebe ran a campaign called #bebefest, which yielded 18 million impressions.Founded in 1998, the Bebe brand has had some challenging times at retail. Earlier this month, it said it would close all its remaining retail stores in the U.S. The cost to terminate the leases was estimated at $65 million, and Bebe said it also reached an agreement to sell a distribution center in Benicia, Calif., for about $22 million, which is expected to close sometime in the next three months, as reported. Bebe’s Los Angeles design center is also up for sale, and the company is “actively” looking for a buyer. While Bebe’s restructuring has been in the works for months and its 170 U.S. stores were expected to close by the end of May, in order to make the brand an online-only business, its web site URL and wholesale agreements were transferred to Bluestar. At the time, it was revealed that the online business would be managed and operated by a third-party. “Going forward, the company anticipates having no retail operations and its sole operations will be the collection of royalty income from the [joint venture with Bluestar],” Bebe said in June.Through Bebe’s joint venture with Bluestar, they have sought licensing opportunities for its Bebe and Bebe Sport brands. Among the licensing deals are Gbg USA Inc., for sportswear and denim, Nyam for handbags; Mamiye Bros. Inc. for children’s apparel, PPI Apparel Group Inc. for intimates, Accutime Watch Corp. for watches, Gbg Sock LLC for socks, American Traveler Inc. for luggage, Haskel Jewels LLC for jewelry and Miworld Accessories for travel accessories. Bluestar and Bebe are 50/50 partners in the joint venture.GBG owns or does licensed products for brands including Juicy Couture, Kenneth Cole, Kate Spade, Under Armour, Zoo York, Chaps Ralph Lauren, Dockers, Nautica, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger and Lucky Brand.Last week, GBG said it was looking to acquire BCBG Brands for $23 million.
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