When department store Century 21 filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy at the end of 2020, co-founder Sonny Gindi and his family snapped up the IP rights of the store that was known for selling designer brands like Dior (CHDRF) and Givenchy at discount prices and got regular callouts on HBO’s “Sex and the City.”
A streamlined and rebranded department store called “Century 21 NYC” is now expected to reopen in the old Financial District location by Spring 2023.
The Sad History of Barneys New York
A New York department store that suffered a far less happy end is Barneys New York.
First opened on New York’s Seventh Avenue and 17th Street in 1923, the luxury shopping destination was beloved by stars and had been around for nearly 100 years.
But it was eventually done in by what some analysts have called a combination of too optimistic expansion and the rise of online shopping.
When Barneys New York filed for bankruptcy in August 2019, brand management company Authentic Brands bought he Barneys name for $271.4 million.
At the time of the acquisition, Authentic Brands announced plans to “leverage [Barneys’] international scale, marketing expertise, and network of best-in-class partners to grow Barneys’ presence as a global luxury retailer and lifestyle brand.”
Authentic Brands also cut a deal in which some Barneys products would be featured as “shop-in-shops” at former department store rival Saks Fifth Avenue.
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Despite a number of backstage meetings and owner hopes to find a buyer that would try to retain Barneys as a full-on department store, the store ultimately closed its doors while the inventory was liquidated in a sell-off at the 275,000-square foot flagship location on 660 Madison Avenue.
The liquidation sale went on for a number of weeks and was an apocalyptic sight of empty floors and strewn designer clothes in a building that once epitomized exclusivity and luxury.
Barneys The Beauty Brand
While there are no signs of a Century 21-style comeback, Authentic Brands recently announced that it had inked a deal with South Korean lifestyle company Gloent Group for a line of Barneys beauty products.
Set to be sold both online and at some Saks and other department store pop-up store locations, the line will feature a range of cosmetics, skincare, fragrance and hair products.
Not much information exists on specific products but an early press photo shows sleek silver-grey tubes and bottles of a gel cream, hair mask and hybrid cleaner.
“We are excited to partner with Authentic Brands Group for the launch of Barneys New York Beauty,” Gloent Group CEO Justin Song said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing Barneys’ rich history of delivering luxury by launching premium beauty, wellness and water products for the next generation’s inner and external health.”
Over the last two years, Barneys has also become synonymous with the worst kind of department store demise. What was once an empire of high-end luxury now exists solely on a few product lines and in former rivals’ stores.
The department store market has certainly been a rocky one over the last few years. While storied names like Neiman Marcus and J.C. Penney are in serious financial trouble due to a changing landscape, others are not only staying afloat but forging confidently ahead.
Luxury department store chain Printemps plans to open a store in New York’s Financial District in the spring of 2024.