For decades, Barneys New York was synonymous with identifying up-and-coming designers, giving them their first wholesale deals and the clout that came with counting Barneys as a stockist. From there, brands would often catapult to fashion superstardom.
Those days are over: Barneys filed for bankruptcy in 2019 and closed its stores. The rights to its intellectual property were acquired by Authentic Brands Group for $271.4 million.
Now, in a post-bankruptcy return, it’s purveying a different sort of product assortment: skin care and bottled water.
ABG partnered with South Korea-based Gloent Group on the new Barneys beauty brand, the first use of its name on a product since the bankruptcy filing. The line will start with a four-product skin care lineup, consisting of a cleanser, a serum, a day cream and a night cream, costing from $48 to $168. The launch will also include the debut of Barneys New York bottled water, which is sourced from Norway and will be available for $5.50 per 11-ounce glass bottle. Lip balm and hand creams are set to come later this year while future releases will include candles, body care, fragrance and other personal care and wellness products.
The brand will launch in the US, with plans to roll out to South Korea and Japan shortly after, and is eyeing expansion to China next year. The collection will be sold direct-to-consumer at barneys-beauty.com, and will also be available on Saks’ website later this year.
Justin Song, chief executive of Gloent, said that the idea behind the line was to bring the sophistication Barneys was known for in its previous life and apply it to a new category.
“We really respect the core DNA of Barneys, they were very innovative and always introducing something new,” said Justin Song, chief executive of Gloent. “We think that not only the people who loved Barneys, but the people globally who may not have known Barneys, will enjoy our products and will learn to love our brand.”
Gloent and ABG debuted Barneys beauty during New York Fashion Week, where products were used to prep the skin of models walking in the Tommy Hilfiger show.
ABG had always planned to revive the Barneys New York brand. When it closed in 2020, the plan was to open Barneys shop-in-shops in Saks Fifth Avenue’s flagship New York City store, a one-time Barneys rival. That vision came to fruition later that year with the opening of Barneys at Saks.
This model has become the norm for ABG. It’s bought a number of distressed retailers or retail brands in recent years, including Hervé Léger, Juicy Couture, Brooks Brothers, Forever 21 and Reebok, and has found new ways to monetise brands that are storied but seemingly past their prime. It’s expanded its brands to new markets (ABG plans to bring Forever 21 to China, for example) and revived brands that had closed entirely, like Juicy Couture, for which it now operates an e-commerce app and website.
Creating a new label — and a beauty brand at that — is unfamiliar territory. While Barneys always had a beauty floor, it was its fashion offering that the retailer was best known for. For Barneys, existing as a shop-in-shop in a competitor and as a four-product beauty line is a far cry from its former glory as the destination in New York fashion. But in 2022, Song said that they felt that today’s culture made the Barneys approach well-suited for the category.
“We thought in 2022 the new luxury right now is to eat well, drink well and buy well and to live a healthy lifestyle,” said Song. “The [store] window these days is the digital window, our phones. Through this digital window, we can show them what this new luxury lifestyle is.”
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