Bebe is freshening up its fashion with Naven.
To get its mojo back, the women’s contemporary retailer will start selling the first collection of dresses, blouses and blazers in September as part of a yearlong collaboration with the Los Angeles-based brand started by identical twins Kym and Alexis McClay. Averaging between $150 and $170 at retail, the feminine and novel styles in Bebe x Naven represent a graduation from the bright prints and daytime designs that have drawn Millennial shoppers to Naven at stores such as Urban Outfitters, Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdale’s.
In addition to silk, lace and suede, the McClay twins played with beading, ostrich feathers, sequins and custom prints, such as electric blue snakeskin and kaleidoscopic flowers. In other words, “it’s work to wine,” said Alexis McClay.
The collaboration is one of various moves made by Bebe founder Manny Mashouf to revive the Brisbane, Calif.-based business. Since returning to the 40-year-old company in February, he’s been on a mission to improve the product, which he previously told WWD skewed too young and lost its point of view in a challenging retail market marred by lagging foot traffic in malls and escalating competition with discounters. Bebe reported that its net loss widened to $52.6 million in the nine months that ended April 2 from $22.4 million a year ago, as revenue fell almost 8 percent to $298.7 million from $323.7 million in the same period.
Fiscal travails aside, the McClays seized the opportunity to learn from a big enterprise when Bebe approached them. Raised in Vancouver, Canada, the 33-year-olds started Naven in 2009 after graduating college in Southern California. Their first tie-up with another fashion company was with Revolve Clothing, which partnered with them for two years on its proprietary label called NBD.
Other than designing the line, the flaxen-haired sisters also will appear in the ad campaign, a feat that would have been unimaginable when they sported Bebe velour tracksuits as teenagers.
“That was the fashion store we went to in high school,” Kym McClay said. “There weren’t a lot of fashion options. Bebe was the fashion staple.”