Bill Blass New York, the direct sales apparel firm, has stopped taking orders and is liquidating.
This story first appeared in the November 21, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
A spokesman for investment firm Angelo Gordon & Co, which owns the direct marketer, said, “Angelo Gordon & Co. on Nov. 14th filed to liquidate Bill Blass New York, a wholly owned direct seller of women’s clothing, under Chapter 7.”
It could not be immediately determined which bankruptcy court the petition was filed in. A spokeswoman for Bill Blass New York did not return calls for comment by press time.
The direct-to-consumer seller in March hired Ann Acierno as its chief executive officer. At the time the operation did about $1 million in sales, sources said.
Since then, other industry sources said the trunk show customer, who favors the personalized service one gets from the direct sales approach, has pulled back sharply on spending, particularly after the stock market volatility that began in September.
Bill Blass International in 2006 licensed Bill Blass New York and became what is purported to be the first direct-sales designer collection. The operation typically offered four collections a year, with prices above bridge and below designer.
In the past year, however, the Bill Blass brand has lost some of its luster. The brand and its ready-to-wear counterpart, Bill Blass Couture, are owned by the financially troubled NexCen Brands Inc. and are currently for sale.
Last month Peter Som left Bill Blass, ending the designer’s role as creative director of Bill Blass women’s wear. Other sources close to the operation also said last month the sale process has taken longer than expected. That delay has caused some retailers that previously had supported the brand to pass on the spring 2009 collection because of uncertainty over ownership, said a source close to the Blass operation.
Financial sources said the lack of spring orders doesn’t bode well for NexCen, which had hoped to attract bids in the mid-$20 million range. They said the brand will likely sell for below $20 million.
Executives at Bill Blass could not be reached for comment Thursday.
NexCen in May said it likely had to sell assets in order to generate enough cash to meet a $30 million loan payment as part of its acquisition of Great American Cookie. The brand management firm sold home furnishings brand Waverly to Iconix Brand Group for $26 million in cash and the assumption of future liabilities last month.