Barneys New York Has a Buyer, but a Rival Bid May Materialize

A buyer has finally emerged for Barneys New York, the iconic department store chain that declared bankruptcy in August.

But the $271 million deal, brought forth by fashion and lifestyle conglomerate Authentic Brands Group, would dissolve Barney’s brick-and-mortar presence—and major media outlets including the Wall Street Journal are reporting that the door is still open for rival bids through Oct. 31.

Authentic Brands Group, which owns a wide range of brands including Neil Lane, Frye, Aeropostale, Nine West, Volcom, and Nautica, said in a statement that it was the successful bidder for Barneys’ intellectual property. The statement detailed that once the sale was finalized (Oct. 31 in a bankruptcy court), Saks Fifth Avenue would become the retail partner for the brand in the United States and Canada. Barneys’ stores would be liquidated.

But will a pack of knights—dressed in shining Louis Vuitton, perhaps?—come to Barneys’ rescue?

A group of investors led by Sam Ben-Avraham, cofounder of streetwear brand Kith, is furiously readying a competing bid that would allow Barneys to remain a brick-and-mortar destination. Ben-Avraham started a “Save Barneys” campaign last month that has its own Instagram account. On Thursday, he told the New York Times that he’s gathered 19,000 signatures on a petition to save Barneys and that the bidding was “not over.”

“We have until the 31st and are working around the clock, taking meetings, speaking on five phones, and we believe we will have a competitive bid and are the right party to take the Barneys brand forward,” he told the media outlet.

Should Authentic Brands wrest control of Barneys intellectual property, it’s assured that Barneys’ nearly 2,000 employees will be out of a job. Less pressing, but still worth a thought: The verdict is out on whether consumers would be interested in Barneys as a stand-alone brand, without its unique brick-and-mortar anchor. Would it last in the marketplace, or would it slowly, painfully peter out?

But so far, options for Barneys New York do not abound.

(Photo courtesy of Barneys New York)

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JCK Magazine Editor