Seems like a long time ago when two women living in the Valley, Pamela Skaist-Levy and Gela Nash-Taylor, came up with a casual fashion brand that took velour tracksuits, along with the famous Juicy logo, and turned them into a not-so-subtle fashion statement. They made nice money (a reported $53 million) selling out to Liz Claiborne in 2003, at which point the line became even more popular. Jennifer Lopez, Britney Spears, and Paris Hilton were among the many celebrities seen wearing Juicy. But as Woody Allen once observed about relationships, fashion is like a shark: It has to keep moving or else it dies. And the Juicy brand has taken on a dated look. Several major retailers stopped selling the line, which can be found these days in discount stores. Not great. And now comes word, via the WSJ, that Fifth & Pacific, the new name of the Liz Claiborne group, is exploring the sale of Arleta-based Juicy, along with the Vernon-based denim maker Lucky Brand. Investment bankers are expected to send out financial books on the two brands as early as this week, the Journal reports.
Lucky is expected to generate more interest from buyers than Juicy, which last year reported a 62% drop in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, to $24.6 million. Juicy, known for its velour track suits, once had a loyal following of young women but has grown tired. Juicy's sales fell 6% in 2012 to $499 million. In December, Juicy named former Kenneth Cole Productions executive Paul Blum as its CEO. Still, the brand hasn't regained the luster of its heyday last decade.
Before the WSJ report, Juicy had been trying to navigate a couple of not-so-flattering stories. The blog Jezebel noted last week that shirts silk-screened with the slogan "Manufactured in the Glamorous USA" are actually made In Vietnam (the company said there was some mix-up in the manufacturing process). There also are claims, denied by Fifth and Pacific, that the company is replacing full-time workers with part-timers at its retail stores in order to avoid paying health insurance. As for the two women who started it all, they parted ways with the company in 2010. From Harper's Bazaar:
The cars, the houses, the views, the best tables at the L.A. hot spots where their (huge) rings are kissed by the glitterati: This is the life that Juicy Couture built. As ["Sex and the City" executive producer Michael Patrick King] knows, the women's story would make for great TV: In 1997, Pam and Gela (or G&P, as they marked much of their merch) started a small clothing company in Gela's apartment complex with $200, and it eventually grew into a fashion empire that included everything from fur coats to mini dog backpacks. What was the moment when the two friends knew they had done something extraordinary? Pam responds immediately: "Madonna wearing the tracksuit with the 'Madge' embroidery. That was pivotal." Gela thinks about it a little longer. For her, it was when they went to the haute couture shows in Paris in 2003 and Valentino threw them a party. "We lived in an L.A. bubble, which is not a fashion industry bubble," she recalls. "But at the party we looked around and realized people knew who we were. That was crazy!" Pam remembers that time too. "People were looking at us like we were the greatest thing ever."