A little part of every fashion enthusiast’s heart cried when news broke that Barneys New York filed for bankruptcy earlier this year. Yet, a new beginning may be in store for the acclaimed American department store as Arabian Oud, a Saudi-based retail group, recently made a bid to procure it. Partnering up with US investment group Solitaire Partners and potentially a third investor, Arabian Oud placed a “competitive” offer, vying against two other bids for the brand. Although some branches have already announced their closure, the first Barneys location in the region will open in Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern cities if this offer is successful, joining the likes of other signature luxury retailers in this part of the world, including Saks Fifth Avenue and Harvey Nichols.
Barneys first made a name for itself in the fashion world almost a century ago when its doors opened in Manhattan during the roaring 20s. Although it started off as a discount menswear brand, it joined the upscale clothing scene a few decades later and grew in prominence after enlisting the help of designers like Hubert de Givenchy and featuring exclusive collections from Giorgio Armani. With its expansion into high-end womenswear, launch of a 21,000-sqm flagship store on Madison Avenue, celebrity shoppers, and appearances in several hit television shows (Carrie Bradshaw, anyone?), Barneys cemented its foundation as a haven for the fashion elite.
But, with increasing rent prices and competition from e-commerce platforms, Barneys announced its bankruptcy in August as well as plans to shut 15 of its 22 stores. Arabian Oud and its investing team plan to focus on the profitable locations while trying to grow its online shopping sales in an attempt to turn Barneys’ luck around and reinstate it as the cherished industry giant it once was.