Behind the Scenes: Is Barneys Going Out of Business?

Is Barney Going Out Of Business? Yes, In 2020, Barneys New York has gone out of business. This iconic department store was founded in 1923. It has closed its doors on February 22, 2020. Authentic Brands Group and B. Riley acquired the company for $271.4 million.

In 2023, Barneys New York is no longer a standalone store. Its doors have closed, marking the end of an era in fashion retail. However, despite its physical absence, the legacy of Barneys is still thriving.

This iconic store has been a cornerstone of New York City’s fashion and retail history. It remains etched in the collective memory of both locals and visitors. Barney’s influence and impact on the fashion industry endure as it is a timeless symbol of the city’s style and sophistication.

While the physical storefronts have departed, the spirit and essence of Barneys New York remain alive. It is resonating with those who appreciate its cultural significance. Barneys is still contributing to the world of fashion.

The new owners have ambitious plans for the Madison Avenue location. They intend to transform it into a space for pop-up businesses. As it makes it breathe new life into the historic site. Additionally, they’ll license the Barneys New York name to Saks Fifth Avenue.

Saks Fifth Avenue, in turn, will introduce Barneys New York shops within several of its stores. These stores are in key markets across the United States and Canada. This unique partnership marks the next chapter for the Barneys brand, even though the standalone stores have ceased to exist.

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What Happened To Barneys NYC?

Barneys New York held a legacy of introducing elite fashion names to the city. It included Armani, Alaia, Comme des Garcons, Louboutin, and Zegna. However, in August 2019, Barneys filed for bankruptcy. Later, it was acquired by Authentic Brands Group. It decided to license the iconic Barneys name to companies like Saks Fifth Avenue.

During this transition, Barneys’ high-end goods faced liquidation. Not only this, but B. Riley Financial also hosted exclusive events for loyal customers. The Madison Avenue store transformed into an innovative “pop-up retail experience.” It offers boutiques, art, culture, and community-driven entertainment.

Saks Fifth Avenue planned to incorporate “Barneys shop-in-shops. Not only in the U.S. stores but also in Canadian ones, uniting two rivals under one roof.

The demise of Barneys added to the changing landscape of Manhattan retail. It followed the closure of other institutions like Lord & Taylor. Founded as a budget men’s retailer. Barneys evolved into an elite fashion destination. But struggled to adapt to online retail and rising rents.

Despite last-minute efforts, the sale to Authentic Brands and B. Riley was approved. It sealed Barney’s fate. As store closing sales began, loyalists sought luxury bargains. Moreover, the once-bustling Madison Avenue flagship reflected changing times.

In 2019, the loss of Barneys marked the end of an era. It left a void in the fashion and creative landscape of New York City.

Who Owns Barneys?

Barneys New York Inc. was a prestigious American department store chain established in 1923 by Barney Pressman. It played a pivotal role in bringing renowned luxury brands like:

Armani, Azzedine Alaïa, Comme des Garçons, Christian Louboutin, and Zegna to the American market.

Due to financial troubles, Barneys faced bankruptcy. Later, it was forced to shut down all its physical stores in 2019. This marked the end of an era for the iconic retailer.

As of April 2023, the Barneys brand has found new life through licensing agreements. It has partnered with Saks Fifth Avenue. Eventually, it operates two shop-in-shop locations in the United States. The brand has expanded its presence in Japan, with Laox Holdings Co. Ltd. managing six stores and several outlet locations.

In truth, the original Barneys stores are gone. But the brand lives on in a new chapter. It offers luxury shopping experiences in select locations in the U.S. and Japan.

The Rise And Fall Of Barneys NYC

Let’s delve into the journey of Barneys New York, from its rise to its fall.

In 1923, Barney Pressman pawned his wife’s engagement ring. With the cash in hand, he opened a modest 500-square-foot men’s discount clothing store. The store was located on Seventh Avenue and 17th Street. His motto was clear: “No Bunk, No Junk, No Imitations.”

Moving on to the 1930s, Barney’s innovative marketing strategies began to shine. He placed women in barrels outside beer halls. Started to distribute matchbooks bearing the store’s name and address. Moreover, he embraced radio and television advertising. Later, it became Manhattan’s first clothier to do so.

The 1960s marked a pivotal shift when Barney’s son, Fred, transformed the store. He transformed it from a discount outlet into a luxury destination. Collaborating with renowned designers like Hubert de Givenchy and Pierre Cardin. He introduced New Yorkers to European style. Birthing the concept of men’s designer clothing.

In the 1970s, Fred’s younger sons, Gene and Bob, expanded into women’s designer clothing. Together, Fred’s wife, Phyllis, curated home gifts under Chelsea Passage. It aimed to compete with upscale uptown retailers. Notably, in 1976, Barneys introduced Giorgio Armani to America.

In August 2019, Barneys New York faced financial difficulties. It led to its second bankruptcy filing. Then, on October 25, 2019, Authentic Brands Group stepped in. It has acquired the company for $271.4 million (~$286 million in 2021). 

The decision was made to close all Barneys stores, with the future of the business left unsure, even with the change in ownership. It was confirmed that the Barneys brand would continue to be licensed to Seven & I Holdings in Japan.

On January 15, 2021, Saks Fifth Avenue unveiled a 54,000-square-foot space on the fifth floor of its flagship location in New York. It named it Barneys at Saks. This collaboration aimed to uphold Barneys New York’s tradition as it discovered and promoted emerging designers.

On January 25, 2021, Saks Fifth Avenue introduced the first standalone Barneys at the Saks store. It was spanning 14,000 square feet in Greenwich, Connecticut.

In 2022, Authentic Brands Group launched Barneys New York Beauty. It is a beauty brand encompassing skincare, personal care, and fragrances. The debut included a four-product skincare collection, including: 

Cleanser, serum, day cream, and night cream.

Finally, in April 2023, Seven & I Holdings sold Barneys New York (Japan) to Laox Holdings. Laox expressed plans to enhance Barneys Japan’s sales. Not only in Japan but also expanded the brand across Asia.

Why Did Barneys Go Out Of Business?

Barneys went out of business due to overly ambitious expansion into numerous cities. It also expanded its stores in Boston and Chicago. The question arose: Was it necessary to have a presence in all these locations?

Another major factor was the changing landscape of shopping. Yes, people love to shop even luxury items, like clothing, online at discounted prices. Barneys’ closure raises concerns about the future of other large retailers.

Following Authentic Brands Group’s acquisition of Barneys. It had decided to close all the stores, leading to a massive liquidation sale.

The final days of Barneys were marked by dwindling discounts, starting at 10% to 25%. Because the stores gradually lost the unique elements that made them unique. In the Madison Avenue location, escalators ceased to function. Dressing rooms were plastered with signs cautioning against taking too many items inside. Receipts became obsolete as everything became a final sale.

One consumer said. “In the Beverly Hills store, I stumbled upon Christmas ornaments. They were at a remarkable 70% discount. However, the clerk shared her frustration about the store’s system. And said it was being hacked, causing payment delays for employees. Amidst, Mariah Carey’s T-shirt is unrelated to Barney’s luxury image. But a quirky find nonetheless. Sometimes, shopping isn’t just about necessity, but the delight of discovering the unexpected.”

Is Barneys NYC Still Open?

Once a fashion icon, Barneys New York is no longer a standalone store. It closed its doors and went out of business in 2020. But its legacy endures. It has left an indelible mark on New York City’s fashion and retail history.

When Did Barneys Reopen Its Door?

Barney’s New York reopened its doors in early 2021 under its new owner, Authentic Brands Group.

The luxury department store chain had initially aimed to reopen in 2020. However, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, these plans were delayed. The first quarter of 2021 marked the return of Barney’s with two anticipated locations, i.e. 

  • A shop-in-shop at Manhattan’s Saks Fifth Avenue flagship
  • A standalone store in Greenwich, Connecticut 

Originally, the shop-in-shop was scheduled to open in September 2019. But circumstances led to a postponement. Additionally, the renowned restaurant Fred’s was set to make a comeback.

These reopenings followed a tumultuous period for the company as the pandemic-induced economic challenges had severely impacted it. This challenging period ultimately forced Barneys to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company filed for bankruptcy in August 2019. 

Later, Authentic Brands Group acquired the department store chain. The deal was done for USD 271.4 million. This acquisition also marked the departure of Barney’s New York CEO, Daniella Vitale, at that time.

Who Are Barneys NYC Competitors?

Barneys New York had faced tough competition in the retail industry. Among the alternatives and possible rivals was Macy’s. It is a renowned department store with a wide range of offerings. Neiman Marcus Group, another luxury retailer, posed competition with its upscale merchandise. American Eagle Outfitters caters to a different market segment. But still presented an alternative shopping choice. 

Despite Barneys’ closure, these competitors continued to shape the diverse retail landscape. Each of them targets different consumer preferences and needs. 

The Bottom Line

In recent years, Barneys New York faced challenges that led to its closure. Barneys closure marks the end of an iconic era in fashion retail in 2020. The brand has been introducing Americans to esteemed designers for a century. Barneys needed help to adapt to changing consumer preferences. Not only this, but also struggled to surge of streetwear brands. This decline in relevance and financial hardship led to its closure. The company initially filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in August 2019. Subsequently, Authentic Brands Group acquired the company. Resulting in the closure of all Barneys stores. Still, the global luxury market continues to thrive.