Authentic Looks To Put The Juice Back In Juicy
Juicy Couture, whose colorful velour tracksuits with JUICY across the posterior enjoyed celebrity status once upon a time a few fashion cycles ago, was sold for $195 million yesterday to Authentic Brands Group by Fifth & Pacific, which had acquired the Juicy label in 2003 and “sent it sailing with ritzy retail shops and fancy advertisements in glossy fashion magazines,” as Deborah Belgum reports in Apparel News.
The brand “got on people’s fashion radar in 2001 when its founders, Pamela Skaist-Levy and Gela Nash-Taylor, fashioned a velour track suit for Madonna, who launched a new trend — sexy sweats,” Belgum continues.
Authentic proclaims itself to be “at the intersection of ideas and creation, on the strategic superhighway.” Its brand portfolio includes the estate of Marilyn Monroe, Judith Leiber handbags, Taryn Rose shoes, Hickey Freeman, Hart Schaffner Marx, Palm Beach, Prince, Ektelon, Viking, Bobby Jones, TapouT, Sportcraft and Spyder skiwear.
“Juicy Couture is a leading lifestyle brand that is recognized worldwide. We are honored and excited to build upon Juicy Couture’s unique heritage and to realize the brand’s significant global potential,” Authentic chairman and CEO Jamie Salter said, reports The Street’s Laurie Kulikowski.
Fifth & Pacific, which was known as Liz Claiborne for 36 years until it changed its name early last year, “has slimmed down from an empire of some 40 brands to three including Juicy Couture and Lucky Brand jeans, which it also has been aiming to shed to focus on its Kate Spade brand,” reports the Wall Street Journal’s Tess Stynes.
Indeed, “Kate Spade is the new crown jewel,” writes MarketWatch’s Andrea Cheng. “Its sales surged 48% last year to $462 million with comparable direct-to-consumer sales gaining 30%. The label saw its adjusted profit last year rising two-thirds.” Meanwhile, “Juicy revenue declined 6.4% last year to $498.6 million, on top of a drop in 2011,” Reuter’s Phil Wahba reports. “The deterioration worsened in the first half of this year, when sales fell 10.7%.”
“The reason for Juicy's problems is simple: its fashions haven't changed that much since its heyday eight years ago,” writes Business Insider’s Ashley Lutz. “Since then, the trends have changed and a new casual apparel brand has taken over: Lululemon.”
"Ultimately, this is all about bringing Kate Spade to its full potential," Fifth & Pacific CEO William McComb said. "We will have much more to say in the coming weeks about the transition of the operating components of the business, the associated restructuring costs and key impacts on our financial outlook," he said.
“Most interesting,” writes Fashionista’s Nora Crotty, is who didn’t buy the brand — its founders, Skaist-Levy and Nash-Taylor (who now run Pam & Gela, formerly Skaist-Taylor). Women’s Wear Daily’s Evan Clark and Vivki M. Young had written in July that they were “reaching out to private equity firms, looking for someone to help them buy back Juicy...,” which they sold to Fifth & Pacific when it was know as Liz Claiborne.
“Juicy’s buzz-factor has been on the wane since velour sweatsuits fell out of fashion, and the rumors of the founding ladies’ potential return had us wondering if they were the answer to reigniting the store’s success,” Crotty says, before wondering anew if they might get involved with Authentic at the helm,
“If they do return to the brand, could Skaist-Levy and Nash-Taylor make it cool again?” Fashionsta’s Dhani Mau asked in July. “The stuff they make now definitely has the same ‘California luxury’ feel as their designs for JC, but is a bit more rock ’n’ roll. It’s cute and thus it sells well — everywhere from Neiman Marcus to Net-a-Porter to Nordstrom.”
Here’s a slide show on Style.com of Pam & Gela’s 2014 Spring ready-to-wear collection, which Maya Singer suggests is the manifestation of “what a new-generation Juicy girl could be looking for now.” And what exactly is a Pam & Gela girl? She’s “hanging out at the corner of Melrose and La Brea, pretty much; she's got a couple of tattoos and a regular and expensive habit at M Café de Chaya.”
Got it. I’m guessing M Café de Chaya is the latest Schwab’s. May it, and all “iconic” brands (including Juicy and Madonna), suffer a better fate.