The name brand Bebe summons memories of unchaperoned high school shopping excursions. My mother was disinclined to clothe me in its bandage minidresses, or to invest in one of their famous shrunken black tees, with “bebe”—spelled out in cheap gems—twinkling across the chest. Thus, the best time to try on clothes at Bebe was when I was alone, imagining myself as more mature and sexy, with fancy places to be.
I suspect the news of Bebe’s imminent closure will strike nostalgic chords in many of you as well. CNN Money reports that the company plans to shutter its brick-and-mortar stores—there were originally 168 across the U.S.—by May 2017. In early March, Bebe announced that it would close 28 of those stores and then contemplate how next to proceed. Clearly they landed on extreme measures.
Currently it’s uncertain as to whether the company will still operate as an online retailer. In its March SEC filing, Bebe merely stated that it was “exploring strategic alternatives.”
Bebe is not the only retailer to flounder on the brick-and-mortar front. Macy’s, JC Penney, and Sears, all previously popular shopping destinations, are turning off the lights in hundreds of stores across the country. Thousands of jobs have been eliminated in the process. Even the luxury department store Neiman Marcus is considering selling itself.
Amazon, on the other hand, continues to thrive with a vengeance, forcing other companies to strategize ways to escape its immense shadow. How this juggernaut of online retail will reshape the fashion industry remains to be seen, but it’s certain to happen.