Barneys has experienced a death by a thousand cuts and it appears one of the final strikes is upon it. Since being acquired by Authentic Brands Group, the irreplaceable luxury emporium has had to undergo the very unluxurious process of liquidating all its merchandise with prominent sales signs displayed both digitally and in its stores. Now, ABG is ending its online promotions in preparation for a full takeover.
Not only has all e-commerce stopped on the Barneys-branded website, plugging in the URL will automatically redirect shoppers to Saks Fifth Avenue’s website with a banner reading ‘Barneys at Saks’. In a parallel move, the Barneys Warehouse website now redirects to Saks Off Fifth, that retailer’s own clearance outfit. Closeout sales of the company’s brick-and-mortar wares will be operated by B. Riley Financial Inc. through February.
Saks was ABG’s expected retail partner when it came to plans for Barneys since completing its purchase in November, but the pairing seemed unusual as the two operate in entirely different kinds of fashion. Or, at the very least, present it with an entirely different attitude. Saks is a sort of fashion catch-all meant to be all things to all people (with the right income), while Barneys nurtured an avant-garde aesthetic and was constantly hunting for new talent.
What will certainly be even more difficult to navigate is the Barneys boutique expected to open on the 5th floor of Saks’ flagship. “You’re going to see apparel, footwear and accessories [in the Barneys boutique at Saks] — similar products to what’s in Barneys today,” ABG chairman and CEO Jaime Salter told Footwear News shortly after completing the deal to buy Barneys. The alliance with Saks will remain in place in the U.S. and Canada. An established licensing agreement with Seven & i Holdings, which operates 12 Barneys store in Japan, isn’t expected to dissolve.
Soon, the flagship store on Madison will sit vacant, its 275,000 square feet already slashed to 90,000, the iconic black and white awnings that sheltered so many as they lingered to look at its window displays dismantled for some unknown new tenant. In a city where everything moves at lightning speed, it feels like a very long goodbye.