Monday, January 5, 2009

Bill Blass Couture Files For Bankruptcy

The economy is beginning to take it's toll on the high-end fashion industry. The first victim -- Bill Blass Ltd:

The company filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition Wednesday with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan, listing assets of $192,000 and debts of $829,000, court papers show.

The company halted operations last week because it "did not have the financial wherewithal to continue," according to its bankruptcy attorney, Harold S. Berzow of Ruskin Moscou Faltischek P.C. ......

The bankruptcy petition shows the company has $11,250 in miscellaneous assets, including office equipment, $25,000 in inventory, about $90,000 in its bank account and $155,361 in accounts receivable..... (Source:

This shouldn't come as a surprise. Just before Christmas, NexCen Brands Inc., the parent company, sold its Bill Blass licensing business to Peacock International Holdings LLC for $10 million to pay off debt, and laid off 60+ workers without severance pay.

The question is, Can Bill Blass recover? Here's some advice from former Blass head designer, Michael Vollbracht:
“You need the Blass DNA – it’s crucial,” says Mr. Vollbracht, who also was a personal friend of Mr. Blass’s. “You need to make good, classic clothes for women who don’t like fads. Bill Blass was not faddish.” (Source: WSJ)
I believe they had that with Peter Som, but NexCen couldn't afford him thanks to a $30 million debt they acquired to purchase Great American Cookie. Who knew a lil' ol' chocolate chip cookie would help bring down a fashion empire?

But there's hope. Peacock, with annual sales of $70 million, has plans on reviving the brand "within 9-12 months".
The new owners of the Blass trademark and its nearly 20 licenses plans to focus first on getting its licenses “on the same page – the brand identity is a little uneven,” Scott Patti says. “We’re very intrigued by the international business opportunities of the Bill Blass brand – we believe NexCen hasn’t even scratched the surface of that worldwide.” When asked about the potential for the brand, he notes that the Blass brand once did sales of $500 million annually. (Source:
Stay tuned........

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