Specialty Stores Still Struggle

As we near the end of 2014, three bankruptcies disclosed at the end of last week—Mexx, Delia’s, and Deb Shops—illustrate the continuing challenges faced by many retailers, particularly in the specialty fashion tier.

Each of these chains varies in its scope, strategy, and target audience, and in the role played by licensed products. Netherlands-based Mexx targets a broad customer base of women, men, and children and has a strong presence in Canada; Deb Shops, headquartered in Philadelphia, focuses on teens and young women (and declared bankruptcy in 2011 as well); and Delia’s specializes in fashion for teen girls and is expected to liquidate.

The teen category has been a particularly hard-hit sector of the fashion retail channel. Aéropostale (a frequent tie-in partner with social media celebrities of late), American Eagle, and Abercrombie & Fitch are all struggling. In fact, it was announced just this morning that A&F’s CEO, Michael Jeffries, is departing.

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