Co.Design

What Businesses Could Learn From The Fall Of Juicy Couture

What will bubblegum princesses wear on flights from L.A. to Puerto Vallarta now?

Last week, Juicy Couture announced it will be closing all U.S. stores by the end of June, Racked reported.

For those for whom a little silver J on a zipper symbolized bitchy popular-girl oppression in middle school--a sign to run as fast as your dorky Keds could carry you--the announcement might bring a kind of vindication, a sweet relief. The reign of the velour tracksuit has ended. The brand's downfall is a cautionary tale to businesses and fashion designers: creating one year's hottest trend doesn't necessarily guarantee a brand's longevity.

Ten years ago, Juicy was the unofficial sponsor of the Mystic-tanned Hollywood set and their plasticky emulators in high schools around the country (as 2004's Mean Girls satirized). The brand was best known for velour tracksuits in cotton candy pinks and blues with “JUICY” stamped in rhinestones on the backside (especially troubling when worn by 11-year-olds). Paired with Uggs and Northface jackets, these sweats became a lazy-chic celebutante uniform, beloved by the likes of Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian, Jessica Simpson, and Eva Longoria (in real life and in character on Desperate Housewives). In 2003, the New York Times reported that Juicy had been “built from a $200 start-up to a $51 million concern."


Despite all this initial success and free celebrity endorsement, the luxury casualwear company, based in California, has been struggling for several years. After major drops in sales, it was sold last fall by parent company Fifth & Pacific (formerly known as Liz Claiborne) to Authentic Brands Group. Then, in November, Kohl’s announced a non-exclusive deal to start selling Juicy clothes at a lower price point. This adoption by a mainstream big-box retailer seemed to spell doom for a label that was once considered fairly high-end.

Since its glory days, the company’s designs simply haven’t changed that much. Like the former head cheerleader who, now 23, still spends her weekends hanging out at the mall and playing beer pong, Juicy didn't evolve. It stuck to the same velour track suit formula. And as The Cut reports, after the recession, Juicy's ostentatious materialism wasn't such a good look anymore. The Kardashians's current sweatpant brand of choice is Lululemon.

In all fairness, Juicy had some lovely designs that weren't plastered with garish logos. (Even Regina George can be, like, actually really nice sometimes.) But it’s the bubblegum-colored velour that the brand will be remembered for.

Juicy merchandise will be still be available in 60 international stores, and at Kohl's. Founding designers Pamela Skaisty-Levy and Gela Nash-Taylor (who stitched “Love, P. & G.” onto every Juicy label) have started a new label, Pam & Gela, out of Los Angeles.* Hopefully, they'll avoid making t-shirts plastered with "PAM & GELA FOREVER."

*An update of this article clarifies that Fifth & Pacific was formerly known as Liz Claiborne, and that the Pam & Gela brand has already been launched.

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