End of an era for Barneys

Barneys by Jean-Philippe Delhomme

It’s a sad week for Barneys, which has just filed for bankruptcy. I still remember reading about this mythical store in the early 90s, and then visiting on my first trip to New York. It seemed impossibly chic and glamorous in a 90s minimalist way; I remember buying a Prada tie with my then boyfriend from the downtown NY store and feeling at the centre of the fashion universe!

I haven’t actually experienced its legendary windows IRL, but I’ve discovered plenty of new brands on its blog, The Window over the years. According to Bloomberg, Barneys’ Madison Avenue and downtown New York City stores will remain open, as well as stores in Beverly Hills, San Francisco and Boston. Barneys.com will continue to operate, while a buyer is sought.

High rents and lower footfall as shoppers migrate to online are blamed for Barneys’ demise. An industry friend posted on Facebook that she’d experienced a soulless environment and lacklustre merchandising on a recent visit (compared to Selfridges, which she raved about). I think the (unsurprising) takeaway here is that stores need to really up the ante on their experiential happenings and unique services to get customers excited about coming through those doors.

UPDATE NOVEMBER 2019: It’s not ended well. Vogue reports that Authentic Brands Group has acquired Barneys’s assets and IP and most likely will cose most of the stores and license the Barneys New York name and intellectual property to Saks Fifth Avenue.

WORDS: Disneyrollergirl / Navaz Batliwalla
IMAGE: Jean-Philippe Delhomme
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