Wet Seal Will Liquidate And Close 137 Remaining Stores

Image courtesy of Phillip Pessar

Attention, fashionable yet casual Consumerists: Get ready to head to your local mall if you’ve ever liked any products from clothing and accessories seller Wet Seal. The company is closing nationwide, which means selling everything from the clothes left on the racks to its office equipment.

If you’ve ever wondered where the chain’s name came from, perhaps it might help to know that it began in southern California in 1962 as a surf-inspired fashion retailer called Lorne’s, eventually re-branding as Wet Seal in 1990. The chain acquired Contempo Casuals in 1995, later re-branding those stores as Wet Seal.

The chain had hundreds of stores before its first Chapter 11 in 2015, closing most of them before being purchased out of bankruptcy by Versa Capital Management, a firm that specializes in buying distressed retailers.

The last few years haven’t been good ones for fashion brands focusing on teen apparel. Fellow brands offering surf gear or surfing-inspired clothes Quiksilver and Pacific Sun went bankrupt but re-organized and remaining open. Hundreds of Aeropostale stores were rescued by a coalition of branding experts an mall landlords and will remain open, but American Apparel’s retail stores and The Limited will not be so lucky.

What Wet Seal hasn’t stated is how long after the bankruptcy gift cards will be good. Customers still holding them can check the balance or activate new cards on the website, but we haven’t been able to find out an end date for card use. Use ’em up if the store lets you, but hurry: Everything in stores and online is 40-60% off, and liquidators Hilco and Gordon Brothers say that the sales will last for as long as the remaining merchandise does.