Wet Seal Files For Second Bankruptcy Since 2015

Image courtesy of Phillip Pessar

In a move that will surprise no one, young women’s clothing retailer Wet Seal has filed for bankruptcy for the second time in just over two years. This time, the chain will not be re-organizing, and it’s unlikely that a new owner will come along and rescue the business out of bankruptcy.

The announcement comes one week after the retailer announced that it would be closing all of its stores. In its filing [PDF], the company disclosed that it has between $10 million and $50 million in assets, and debts between $50 million and $100 million.

Those assets include any inventory and fixtures that are still inside stores across the country. What’s not clear is how many of those stores are still open. The company’s website is still selling merchandise, selling everything for up to 50% off with all sales final.

What we don’t know yet is the possible fate of any gift cards: If you still have open stores near you, call ahead to ask about the gift card situation. Retailers typically accept them for at least 30 days after filing for bankruptcy, but that only applies if stores are still open. Hurry up and use that card if you can.

By the way, if you’ve ever wondered what happened to the chain Contempo Casuals, we learned that Wet Seal acquired it in 1995, absorbing the brand and re-naming the stores Wet Seal six years after that.

This is yet another bankruptcy filing and mass store closure in what has been a tough year for retailers aimed at teens and young adults: Abercrombie & Fitch announced layoffs last week; The Limited also filed for bankruptcy and shuttered all of its stores; Aeropostale was ready to go out of business until a coalition of rescuers scooped its business up out of bankruptcy proceedings; and American Apparel is closing its youth-oriented stores after its own second bankruptcy in two years.