The End of The SONIA RYKIEL Fashion Designer House

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It's a story that ends badly for a French fashion designer house.

Thursday, July 25th, the die was cast.

The house SONIA RYKEL, a ready-to-wear brand sees its doors close for good.

This liquidation will lead to the closure of all points of sale still in activity, resulting in the dismissal of 131 people.



Financial difficulties

Since the disappearance of its eponymous founder in 2016, the designer house SONIA RYKIEL had difficulty finding financing and had been placed in receivership since April 2019. Several takeover solutions had been proposed, both from France and abroad, but only two, considered as "serious", had been retained.

One of the two takeover bids was an offer from the former head of the Balmain brand, Emmanuel Diemoz, a veteran of the fashion world. The other was a proposal, according to the French press, from "a large Parisian family" whose name was not revealed but who was not known in the fashion world.



The arrival of FIRST HERITAGE to the capital of the designer house

The liquidation of SONIA RYKIEL is also a sign of the failure of the Chinese investment fund, FIRST HERITAGE BRANDS.

In 2012, the founder Sonia Rykiel, who still owned one of the last independent designer houses in France, but who was already experiencing cash flow problems, decided to sell about 80% of her capital to a Chinese investment fund: FUNG BRANDS.

The investment fund, which is to become FIRST HERITAGE, a holding company owned by the Fung family from Hong Kong, is headed by Frenchman Jean-Marc Loubier.

This fund, which also owns the Belgian luxury leather goods brand Delvaux, had reached 100% ownership at the beginning of 2016.

Since the holding company's participation, almost 200 million euros have been invested in the Sonia Rykiel brand by its shareholders in seven years.

The owners have sought to relaunch the business by capitalizing on its identity, embodied by the founder Sonia Rykiel, nicknamed "The Queen of Knitting".

The idea: to reposition the brand with a top-of-the-range vision, reach out to a younger clientele, succeed in making progress in Asian markets and also, from a creative point of view, succeed in bringing Rykiel's "style" back into fashion, a mix of colourful stripes, tight sweaters and the bold freedom of the house founded in May 1968.

This is unfortunately a financial abyss that the holding company could no longer sustain.

The brand's premium repositioning did not bear fruit and the house decided to part ways with its artistic director Julie de Libran in March 219. Recruited in 2014, she had taken the collections towards its premium positioning.

In January 2019, the holding company is looking for a new buyer to take over the brand.

You know the rest.



What about the future of independent fashion designer houses?

The background of this article leads to a reflection on the difficulty of maintaining a certain independence in the fashion world. And mainly on luxury fashion.

Almost all of today's major fashion houses are owned by large conglomerates and benefit from extraordinary financial means.

It also increases the need for design, which must be almost inexhaustible for fashion houses. To inspire fashion, to be part of the movement and not to be subjected to it.

This is terrible news for the fashion world, but it is also a kind of lesson in a way.



Update of the article on 12/12/19: We have just learned that new offers have been submitted concerning a possibility of taking over the fashion house. A new article is in preparation to inform you about this turnaround. The decision of the French court concerning the end of the SONIA RYKEL brand is far from over.


Photos credit: Sonia Rykiel


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