NEW YORK — Issey Miyake and Barneys New York have decided to call it quits after nearly 20 years of doing business together.
Consequently, Miyake’s fall/winter women’s and men’s collections won’t be carried in any of the 18 Barneys stores.
Nancy Knox, press officer for Issey Miyake here, said Tuesday, “It was a mutual decision. It doesn’t mean we won’t be selling them in the future.”
“It was not a mutual decision; it was our decision,” countered Gene Pressman, co-president of Barneys. “We decided not to buy them anymore.”
Both parties, however, left the door open to resume their relationship.
Pressman said the Miyake executives had “gone back on their word in terms of distribution,” and wanted to sell to a competitor in Chicago, and didn’t want to sell Barneys anymore.
“We were selling [the collections] very well in Chicago,” continued Pressman. “We had it for two weeks, and they said we weren’t selling it well, which is absurd, and they decided they didn’t want to sell us.”
As a result, Pressman said, he decided not to buy the collection for any of the Barneys stores.
Knox responded: “Miyake did not go back on its word.”
Sources said several factors contributed to the decision for Barneys and Miyake to part company — namely distribution issues in Los Angeles as well as Chicago, and late payments on Barneys’ part.
In Los Angeles, sources said Miyake already had an established presence in several stores before Barneys opened its West Coast flagship in Beverly Hills last April. Reportedly, Miyake didn’t want to sell to Barneys.
As for late payments, Knox said: “At the time of the decision [after presenting the collection in March], they did owe us a substantial amount of money. But today [Tuesday] they sent us a huge check.
“That was one of the reasons for not selling them the fall/winter collection, but not the only one. As two companies, we’re growing and moving in different directions. It’s just a process you go through,” said Knox.
Pressman disagreed that the payment schedule had anything to do with the decision. “We do 90 percent of our business with LCs (letters of credit) with them.”
“It is done by LCs,” said Knox, “but they were severely behind until today. That money dropped out of the sky this morning.”
Barneys had been “many months” late, she said.
According to Pressman, Barneys was one of Miyake’s first U.S. customers and has been carrying the collection since 1975 or 1976. The women’s and men’s collections were carried in all the Barneys units. Both accounted for $2 million in retail sales, said Pressman.
“We were one of their biggest accounts in America,” said Pressman. “We had a huge business on Madison Avenue [with Miyake] last fall.” “If something doesn’t feel comfortable, we don’t do it,” said Knox. She said the company had valued its relationship with Barneys and hoped to renew it someday.
“These things happen all the time,” said Pressman. “People have to choose. Retailers have the option of who they want to buy, and wholesalers have the option of who they want to sell. Maybe we’ll do business in the future. Issey is a great guy.”
Miyake will still have a significant presence in New York, said Knox, and has sold the fall/winter collection to Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue and Charivari. It will also be carried in its own boutique. Miyake also sold Henri Bendel its Windcoat line of outerwear.