Skip to main content

All the Fashion and Beauty Brand Closures and Bankruptcies Caused by the Pandemic

In many cases, trouble was brewing before Covid-19 hit.
  • Author:
  • Updated:
jcrew store earnings

As we're all now well aware, the Covid-19 pandemic has been particularly tough on the fashion industry, with sales down across the board. And given that many companies — especially those with more traditional business models — were already struggling to adapt to a new retail environment or keep up with more digitally savvy competitors (remember: there were also plenty of bankruptcies and closures in 2019), the stay-at-home-orders were enough to fully decimate a number of them.

Some, like J.Crew and Neiman Marcus, declared bankruptcy, which typically means they're hoping some financial restructuring or a new investor could ultimately help them stay in business if they're lucky. Others have been forced to close up shop entirely.

From smaller brands without the cushion to weather a major drop in sales, to large retail chains that were saddled with debt before all this began, read on for a digital graveyard of all the fashion and beauty businesses that succumbed to the coronavirus and its negative impact on consumer spending. We'll keep updating this list as more of this bummer news emerges.

J.Crew: Debt-saddled J.Crew filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection May 4. CEO Jan Singer described the decision as a financial restructuring and "a critical milestone in the ongoing process to transform our business with the goal of driving long-term, sustainable growth for J.Crew and further enhancing Madewell's growth momentum."

Neiman Marcus: With a reported $4.8 billion in debt, Neiman Marcus filed for Chapter 11 May 7, saying in court documents that it expects to emerge from bankruptcy in the fall.

John Varvatos: On May 6, menswear brand John Varvatos filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, citing falling sales. The brand hopes to stay in business as it restructures its finances.

J.Hilburn: Another brand in the bankruptcy club as of May 6 is J.Hilburn, a Dallas-based custom menswear retailer. The company employs stylists who work directly with customers in showrooms throughout the U.S., and hopes there will be no business disruption while it restructures its finances.

True Religion: The once-ubiquitous denim brand filed for bankruptcy for the second time in three years on April 13. It hopes to explore a sale or restructuring.

Bldwn: This Los Angeles-based contemporary brand (which originally launched as Baldwin in Kansas City and focused on denim) was an early victim of the pandemic, announcing a total closure March 25. According to a rep for the brand, investors decided to shut it down and all employees were let go.

The Modist: The Modist, an innovative online luxury retailer based in Dubai and focused on modest fashion, announced on April 2 it would be closing its doors permanently. According to the brand, the hit it took from the pandemic left it with no other options.

Elizabeth Suzann: On April 28, Nashville-based sustainable clothing brand Elizabeth Suzann announced that the company "as we know it" would be closing, with all employees leaving and its studio being vacated once existing orders were completed. Though, it sounds as if the founder could be back to work in some capacity by fall, TBD.

Anthom: New York designer boutique Anthom announced Friday, May 15 that it has permanently closed its brick-and-mortar doors. For now, it will continue operations online.

UPDATE, Monday May 18:

J.C. Penney: Long-struggling department store chain J.C. Penney filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on May 15. The company said it's working with its lenders on a restructuring plan to reduce debt and will explore a possible sale. It plans to continue operations and begin opening stores as it's deemed safe.

Centric Brands: This licensee company, which recently bought Zac Posen and produces products for Tommy Hilfiger, Under Armour, Calvin Klein and more filed for Chapter 11 on Monday May 18. It is working with lenders on a financial restructuring and plans to continue operations throughout the process.

UPDATE, Tuesday May 19:

Jeffrey: Nordstrom Inc., which bought a majority stake in the luxury boutique Jeffrey in 2005, has decided to permanently close all of its three locations. In turn, Jeffrey Kalinsky, who also acted as Nordstrom's designer fashion director, is retiring. According to the company, the decision to eliminate all Jeffrey stores as well as 16 Nordstrom stores was a response to the pandemic. In a statement, Kalinsky said: "Nordstrom has been an incredible partner to me and to the Jeffrey brand. While I'm disappointed in their decision to close Jeffrey stores, I understand it is the right decision for the business given the circumstances of this global crisis."

UPDATE, Monday June 15:

Matter: Cult-favorite ethical fashion brand Matter announced Monday that "after several months of uncertainty," it had made the decision to close. The brand was known for working with rural artisans and using responsibly-sourced, heritage-based textiles. Matter did not cancel any of the orders it had already placed with its partners, and items will continue to be available for sale online.

Sies Marjan: Beloved New York-based luxury brand Sies Marjan has shut its doors after five years in business. According to a statement shared by the brand, the decision was a result of the "significant" financial impact of the pandemic on the "young, independent" comapny. "What we have worked on has been a dream come true," Creative Director Sander Lak said. "Thank you to everyone who has given their time and talent to Sies Marjan over the years."

UPDATE, Monday July 6:

Lucky Brand: After 30 years in business, Los Angeles-based denim label Lucky Brand filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Friday, July 3 in Delaware, according to Associated Press. The brand blamed the general decline of brick-and-mortar, compounded by the pandemic store closures, and said it plans to close at least 13 of its 200 stores. Included in the court filing was a proposal to sell Lucky to buyers led by SPARC Group — which operates under the Aeropostale and Nautica brands that that are owned by Authentic Brands Group and mall operator Simon Property Group — for $140.1 million in cash and $51.5 million in credit. The company is also open to better offers, and said a sale would close by mid-August. 

G-Star Raw: G-Star Raw, another established Los Angeles-based denim brand known for its dedication to sustainability, also filed for Chapter 11 Friday. According to Sourcing Journal, the company cited "financial woes from the coronavirus crisis." 

UPDATE, Tuesday July 7:

Need Supply & Totokaelo: Seattle, Washington-based Totokaelo and Richmond, Virginia-based Need Supply — which operate under the same company, NSTO — are both closing, according to The Cut, which cites multiple sources. A lawyer told the site they were winding down operations with no timeline specified. Layoffs reportedly began earlier this year and ramped up when Covid-19 hit. Neither retailer has made a public announcement yet; we've reached out to a rep for both for comment.

UPDATE, Wednesday July 8:

Brooks Brothers: Brooks Brothers filed for bankruptcy, following months of financial trouble exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. (The New York Times reported in June that it had been looking for a buyer for its factories.) In a statement to CNBC, a spokesperson for the company said: "Over the past year, Brooks Brothers' board, leadership team and financial and legal advisors have been evaluating various strategic options to position the company for future success, including a potential sale of the business. During this strategic review, Covid-19 became immensely disruptive and took a toll on our business. We are in the process of identifying the right owner, or owners, to lead our iconic Brooks Brothers brand into the future." 

UPDATE, Friday, July 10: 

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

Muji U.S.A.: The U.S. arm of Japanese retailer Muji, Muji U.S.A Ltd., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Delaware this week, Bloomberg reports, citing coronavirus-related shutdowns. According to Reuters, some of the brand's U.S. stores will close, while others will attempt to renegotiate leases. 

UPDATE, Monday, July 13:

RTW Retailwinds Inc.: The parent company of New York & Co., RTW Retailwinds Inc., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in New Jersey on Monday. According to a statement, it plans "to close a significant portion, if not all, of its brick-and-mortar stores" and is considering selling its e-commerce business. Sheamus Toal, chief executive officer and chief financial officer of RTW Retailwinds Inc. (which also owns Lerner New York Inc., Fashion to Figure and Happy x Nature), said this is a result of "combined effects of a challenging retail environment coupled with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic." 

UPDATE, Thursday, July 23:

Ascena Retail Group Inc.: Ascena — which operates Ann Taylor, Loft, Lane Bryant, Justice and Lou & Grey — announced on Thursday it had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, saying that Covid-19 "severely disrupted" its business in a statement. "We have a clear vision for our future and we will continue delivering meaningful experiences for our customers each and every day," Gary Muto, the company's chief executive officer, noted. "We look forward to our continued partnerships with our valued vendors, landlords and other stakeholders as we emerge from Chapter 11, and this pandemic, as a stronger company." 

UPDATE, Monday, August 3:

Le Tote Inc.: Le Tote, which acquired Lord & Taylor from Hudson's Bay Co. in 2019, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection over the weekend, for both its namesake business and the iconic New York retailer, Bloomberg reports. 

Tailored Brands: Tailored Brands, which owns Men's Warehouse and JoS. A. Bank, also filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this past weekend. In a statement released on Sunday, the company's chief executive officer, Dinesh Lathi, said: "Our brands have served their communities for decades and built deeply loyal relationships with customers. We remain confident that these relationships and our enduring commitment to help customers look and feel their best will allow us to overcome the challenges of Covid-19. Today, we are taking the next steps to become a financially stronger and more nimble company that is poised to thrive in our ever-evolving business environment."

UPDATE, Wednesday, August 12:

Stein Mart: Off-price department store chain Stein Mart announced Wednesday it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Jacksonville, Fla. It plans to close most, if not all of its 281 stores and has already begun liquidation sales. CEO and CFO Hunt Hawkins cited financial stress due to "the combined effects of a challenging retail environment coupled with the impact of the coronavirus [COVID-19] pandemic," per a statement published in WWD.

UPDATE, Monday, August 17:

Rent the Runway: Rent the Runway will not be reopening its brick-and-mortar locations post-pandemic. The company announced that its stores in Santa Monica, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Washington, D.C. and New York City will close permanently — "something we had long considered as part of the evolution of our overall business strategy," Anushka Salinas, president and chief operating officer of Rent the Runway, told WWD, "as the primary use-case of our stores for the past few years has been pick-up and drop-off, and was a decision we accelerated during the pandemic." 

UPDATE, Thursday August 27:

Lord & Taylor: Weeks after its parent company declared bankruptcy, Lord & Taylor announced it is officially going out of business and closing all locations after nearly 200 years; it was the first department store ever established in the U.S. Liquidation sales have begun at its remaining stories and e-commerce site, according to CNN.

UPDATE, Thursday, Sept. 10:

Century21: Century21 announced on Thursday that it would be going out of business, filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York and preparing to close its 13 stores across the U.S.

"While insurance money helped us to rebuild after suffering the devastating impact of 9/11, we now have no viable alternative but to begin the closure of our beloved family business because our insurers, to whom we have paid significant premiums every year for protection against unforeseen circumstances like we are experiencing today, have turned their backs on us at this most critical time," Raymond Gindi, the company's co-CEO, said in a statement. "While retailers across the board have suffered greatly due to Covid-19, and Century 21 is no exception, we are confident that had we received any meaningful portion of the insurance proceeds, we would have been able to save thousands of jobs and weather the storm, in hopes of another incredible recovery."

UPDATE, Tuesday, Nov. 10: 

Cushnie: On Oct. 29, Carly Cushnie announced the closure of her namesake brand in the New York Times, citing pandemic-related financial strains as the reason.

"As one of the few Black female designers to achieve this level of success, I am both humbled and empowered by the undeniable mark that I have made," Cushnie said in an open letter posted to Instagram. "While this past year has been challenging, it has allowed me the time to reflect, reset and realign my goals and my passion for design has never been stronger. I recognize the power of my presence and will continue to fight for the causes and values I believe in, and will always continue to create."

Furla USA: Italian accessories brand Furla has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in New York. This only pertains to the brand's U.S. operations and does not signal the end of its business in the United States, the brand tells WWD. The decision was made in the wake of the pandemic and resulting U.S. store closures.

UPDATE, Thursday, Nov. 12:

Planet Blue: Planet Blue, a Los Angeles boutique that was popular among celebrities in the aughts, has announced it is closing all of its remaining retail locations, including six in Southern California and six in other parts of the U.S. According to WWD, it will continue to operate online for the foreseeable future.

UPDATE, Monday, Nov. 30:

Arcadia Group: The struggling owner of high-street giant Topshop has entered into administration, Business of Fashion reports. This means legal ownership has been handed over to an administrator who will decide what to do with its assets. An acquisition of Topshop is likely, per BoF. 

UPDATE, Friday, Jan. 8, 2021:

Bird: Bird, the influential Brooklyn-based women's boutique chain known for its cool assortment of emerging and international designers, is winding down operations, according to Business of Fashion. Its two remaining brick-and-mortar stores and e-commerce shop will all shut down in the coming weeks. Founder Jen Mankins tells the publication she was forced to shut down due to dwindling margins, rising rents and competition from direct-to-consumer businesses — problems the pandemic exacerbated.

UPDATE, Monday, April 5, 2021:

The Collected Group: The Collected Group — owner of Joie, Equipment and Current/Elliott — filed for bankruptcy protection, according to Bloomberg. The company, which is co-owned by private equity giant KKR & Co., has plans for a restructuring that would eliminate $150 million in debt and give senior lenders ownership. In 2020, its brands' retail and wholesale sales reportedly fell by 86% and 75%, respectively.

Never miss the latest fashion industry news. Sign up for the Fashionista daily newsletter.