Celebrity designer Max Azria kicked off NY fashion week with store closing and rumors of seeking bankruptcy protection. BCBG, whose name is short for the French expression “bon chic, bon genre” has built quite a celebrity following counting the likes of Angelina Jolie, Rachel Bilson, Eva Mendes, Kate Winslet, Victoria Beckham, Alicia Keys and Catherine Zeta-Jones among its fans. Yet has recently been undergoing a radical shift to minimize debt load by reducing its brick and mortar presence and moving online.
Last year, Max Azria stepped down as CEO and in April promoted interim chief executive Marty Staff April to help turn the company around. Since then there has been quite a bit of upheaval as the company announced it will close 120 of its stores world wide, using the filter “either [the stores] are unprofitable or have untenable lease agreements” according to Mr. Staff.
BCBG Max Azria Group still has has more than 570 boutiques globally, including more than 175 in the U.S. And is confident of a turn around. In a recent company statement, Seth Lubove, a spokesman for the Vernon, California-based BCBG with firm Sitrick & Co. said “As previously disclosed, we are re-positioning our BCBG brands and operations for the future with a focus on digital, eCommerce, selected retail locations, in-store boutiques and wholesale and licensing arrangements. As part of our effort to realign BCBG, we have had to make the difficult decision to reduce the total number of our retail stores”. The hammer has been falling rapidly with 4 Chicago based stores announcing liquidation this week, but it is still just the first step of the new business plan that will rely on online outlets and future undisclosed licensing agreements.
In another statement put out by the company, the focus is still on founder Mr. Azria’s, who “is a world-class designer and producer of apparel, which with the necessary changes, should be able to be successful,” No one can deny the man’s dedication to the company as he has also recently put up his 17-bedroom home in the Holmby Hills area of Los Angeles back up for sale, increasing the asking price from $85 million to $88 million. His wife, Lubov Azria, is still on board as chief creative director.