BCBG Max Azria Files For Bankruptcy, Admits It’s No Longer Chic

Image courtesy of Mike Mozart

The fashion retailer BCBG Max Azria closed 120 stores at the beginning of last month, setting off speculation that it might be about to file for bankruptcy. This speculation was correct: The purveyor of dressy yet affordable clothes filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy today, seeking to either sell the business or make a deal that would give its junior creditors a stake in the business instead of cash.

Word was out earlier this week that the company was preparing a bankruptcy filing, perhaps to give customers fair warning that they should use up any gift cards that they have sitting around.

The retailer wants to stay open, so what should it have learned by now about operating a modern retail business aimed at young women? First, its online presence and e-commerce business is minimal. As retailers from The Limited to Wet Seal have learned recently, malls are no longer the place to reach fashionable young women.

Where can you find them? Instagram, and they’re not interested in the same old photos with models that you might have seen in a catalog in the olden days. Boring. Where are the style bloggers and regular people wearing the brand’s clothes?

The clothes themselves are a big part of the problem, too. The brand simply wasn’t turning its inventory over fast enough.

“BCBG, you have product every month or every three months,” a retail analyst and former customer told the Los Angeles Times. “But at Zara, if I go in today, in the next two weeks they will have something new.”

Business in stores is down 20%, the company told its landlords earlier this year, and online sales still aren’t a significant part of its business.

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