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The 9 Biggest Bankruptcies to Hit Shoes & Fashion in 2017


A Payless superstore.

Courtesy of Payless

Even with major breakthroughs in fashion deals, industrywide challenges leaked into 2017, making it a difficult year for many fashion brands and retailers.

Heading to the bankruptcy court at a frantic pace, some closed down for good and others sought temporary financial relief for restructuring efforts.

Here, we round up some of the biggest shoe and fashion company bankruptcies of 2017.

  1. Shoes.com —  The year started off on a sour note for the Canadian shoe e-tailer and former Zappos competitor, which abruptly announced at the end of January that it would take all three of its e-commerce properties — Shoes.com, OnlineShoes.com and ShoeME.ca — offline. It also said it would close the two Shoes.com brick-and-mortar stores in Toronto and Vancouver, Canada. After its assets were seized as a form of corporate bankruptcy, the Shoes.com domain was snapped up by Walmart’s ShoeBuy.
  2. BCBG — Not long after, BCBG Max Azria Group closed 120 of its stores and sought Chapter 11 protection after consistently failing to bring down significant debts. As part of its bankruptcy protection, the company, founded by fashion designer Max Azria, received $45 million in new financing — and was later acquired by Marquee Brands.
  3. Wet Seal — Once seen as a teenage mall staple, Wet Seal closed its doors for good after filing for bankruptcy for the second time in two years this February. The retailer, which built its image on a “California Cool” aesthetic, is now operating exclusively online.
  4. The Limited — The once-popular retailer of women’s apparel was forced to start the year by closing all 250 stores and cutting more than 4,000 jobs. By February, the company was officially bankrupt — although private equity firm Sycamore Partners purchased its e-commerce business and intellectual property at auction for $26.8 million.
  5. Aerosoles — In September, women’s comfort shoe brand Aerosoles announced plans to restructure after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection due to its outstanding loans. The company said its reorganized business will focus on e-commerce, wholesale and international businesses.
  6. The Tannery — When they filed for bankruptcy this year, owners of The Tannery and The Tannery Outlet Store estimated that they owed between $1 million and $10 million. Some of the more popular fashion brands owed money by the company included Gucci, Valentino, Lanvin, Adidas and Ugg.
  7. True Religion — In the middle of the summer, True Religion sought bankruptcy protection to reduce its debt by more than $350 million. While the company, known primarily for its glitzy denim, reached peak popularity in the mid-2000s, it struggled to find a customer base as styles changed.
  8. Payless ShoeSource — The low-price family-footwear retailer sought Chapter 11 protection in April but quickly re-emerged in August, putting the company in a rare class at a time when the outcome for many struggling retailers that have taken that route has been far different. Payless, which had 4,400 stores in 30 countries and set out to close about 400 at the start of its bankruptcy proceedings, now has 3,500 brick-and-mortar outposts. The previously debt-saddled firm said it was able to shed about $435 million in funded debt via the process. Its post-bankruptcy strategy emphasizes a focus on Hispanic consumers.
  9. Shiekh Shoes — Shiekh Shoes, a sneaker retailer based in California, also filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after racking up what in some cases were million-dollar debts to shoe companies such as Nike, Timberland, Adidas, Puma and Vans.

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