Bebe relaunches e-commerce under new ownership

Dive Brief:

  • Global Brands Group Holding on Thursday clarified the strategy for its new interest in bebe, saying it will relaunch a newly transformed e-commerce platform and its international brick-and-mortar stores “designed to meet the heightened shopping expectations of the savvy, confident female consumer.”

  • The announcement represents the first initiative under Global Brands' direction of bebe's e-commerce platform, direct-to-consumer divisions and international operations, according to a Global Brands press release. Bluestar Alliance, which last year forged a partnership with bebe to create new licensees and product extensions overseas, will continue managing the brand while the existing partnership remains intact, the companies said.

  • The company has also appointed designer Nathan Jenden, known for his eponymous collections as well as for his time as creative director at Diane von Furstenberg, as creative director to lead the effort.

Dive Insight:

In her statement on Thursday, newly appointed president of the Bebe division at Global Brands Group Sandra Campos noted bebe’s “loyal, global following.” 

“With Global Brands' renowned expertise behind us, we see a tremendous opportunity to relaunch a new e-commerce platform that best reflects who our global customer is and how she shops,” she said. “We are very excited to welcome Nathan on board, as he's a strong and proven design talent, with a remarkable pulse on keeping up with today's consumer. He understands who she is, where she's going, and how she wants to be reached. And we are confident that he is uniquely positioned to best lead the creative vision of the bebe brand."

Jenden joins Global Brands Group's bebe division after spending over a decade working with fashion icon Diane Von Furstenburg, and catering to a prominent client list that includes music mogul and mega star Madonna. He launched his own label during New York Fashion Week 2005, and by his third collection, he had Philip Treacy on board for headpieces, and Christian Louboutin doing heels – a collaboration that earned him accolades from Women’s Wear Daily. He studied at Central Saint Martins at the University of the Arts London and the Royal College of Art, and made his foray into the fashion world as an apprentice to John Galliano, according to a press release.

"Bebe is one of the original brands in the world of contemporary, chic women's fashion, which brought something new to market that wasn't like anything we had ever seen at that time," he said in a statement. "I believe passionately in the brand's diverse consumer who adores seductive, decorated and feminine clothes through her life 24/seven, and our vision is to target her complete lifestyle from clothes to accessories and beyond. We are looking at what a woman wants now, how she shops, and what she needs, and we'll seek rich and engaging conversations with our customers to ensure we are part of their integral global community.”

Bluestar CEO Joseph Gabbay said that Global Brands’ ownership will facilitate the e-commerce efforts that had already begun. "Global Brands Group has been a strategic licensee and can now seamlessly synergize the international distribution, e-commerce platform and wholesale business,” he said in a statement. “Our efforts will concentrate on an omni-channel distribution approach to service and expand the bebe customer, both domestically and internationally." Bluestar Alliance will continue managing the brand with the existing partnership remaining intact.

Earlier this month Bebe Stores Inc. said that it made a series of deals that leaves it with no stores. On May 30 it turned over its intellectual property rights, international wholesale agreements and e-commerce URLs to the joint venture it has with brand management company Blue Star Alliance, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Thanks to $67 million in cash in the bank as of the end of last year and little debt, Bebe has been able to make a graceful exit from the retail landscape, in contrast to some of the messier jockeying for assets that is often a hallmark of the bankruptcy process. Such disagreements roiled the likes of Aeropostale, Sports Authority and American Apparel, sparking lawsuits and courtroom tussles during their bankruptcy negotiations.

But while the process has gone relatively smoothly, the outcome is essentially the same: the company’s SEC 8K filing shows that as of May 27, all retail operations effectively ended. “Going forward, the company anticipates having no retail operations, and its sole function will be the collection of distributions from the [BB Brand Holdings joint venture],” the filing reads.

Bluestar COO Ralph Gindi said last week that marketing for Fall 2017 is ready to go. "Since our acquisition less than a year ago, we have introduced two major advertising campaigns. First, featuring globally recognized model Irina Shayk, shot on the islands of Greece, followed by the more recent and active campaign featuring model Hailey Clauson,” he noted in a statement. “The latter campaign was shot by Luigi and Iango and can been seen today in outlets such as Vogue, Elle and InStyle amongst others. During festival season bebe activated with the campaign #bebefest. Through top funnel marketing, our omnichannel approach and efforts yielded 18 million impressions and new streams of revenue via customer acquisition. As we continue forward our integrated marketing activities in all aspects (print, social media, press & brand marketing) will speak directly to the loyal bebe customer and showcase its DNA, season after season."

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Filed Under: E-commerce
Top image credit: Global Brands Group