In yet another casualty of the rapidly changing fashion landscape, BCBG Max Azria is set to close many of its stores, and according to Business of Fashion, the retailer will announce bankruptcy next week. The company, which also owned lines Hervé Léger and BCBGeneration, was long-run by husband-and-wife duo Max and Lubov Azria.
BOF outlined the company’s various struggles with debt and business over the past few years, and highlighted how the consumer landscape is changing to favor online shoppers over trips to a brick and mortar.
What should also be mentioned is how BCBG's downfall is an example of the fleeting relevancy of fashion. It exemplifies a particularly fine line brands must walk when they have a signature "it” look. Hervé Léger was huge in the early aughts for its form-fitting bandage dresses. Naturally, the company wanted to keep playing off what it was known for and retain loyal customers, but also risked becoming irrelevant when fashion moved on.
BCBG hit its peak in the early 2000s, and catered to a middle class consumer. The brand operated at a price point that was just out of reach enough to be considered high fashion, but low enough to appear in malls across the country. It was suburban luxury: status items proudly donned by moms and those teenage girls who always seemed to get what they wanted. The bandage dress was akin to Coach logo bags or Michael Kors boyfriend watches.
To a certain extent, as the middle class began to dwindle, so did this particular customer base. But attainable luxury brands can still be found in malls across America. They’re simply evolving. Coach, in recent seasons, has gone through a major creative restructuring, bringing the brand back to the current fashion conversation. On the apparel front, Canadian retailer Aritzia, with its Céline-esque minimalist aesthetic, has been making an increasing impact in the United States since entering the market.
It is not that we are merely in some sort of “dark” period of retail. Competition, changes in consumer tastes, and how people shop are factors business owners must deal with on a daily basis. These days the challenges of being successful in fashion are somewhat harder, and not every label will be able to navigate the waters. What, exactly, bankruptcy will mean for BCBG is yet to be said—technically, they haven’t made an official announcement yet—but with any luck, this wont be the last fans see of the brand.
UPDATE: WWD reports that BCBG has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection today. Though there will be store closures across the United States and Canada, the company is re-working it's business.
"“The steps we are taking now, to address the shift in customer shopping patterns and the growth of online shopping, will allow us to focus on our partner relationships, digital, ecommerce, selected retail locations and wholesale and licensing arrangements," said Marty Staff, the interim CEO. "The chapter 11 filing will further aid the implementation of these steps and overall strategy while we explore opportunities to recapitalize the company and profitably expand our international footprint.”