End of an Era of American Sportswear as Jones New York Shuts Down Operations

By Kenneth Richard | The Impressionist

Jones New York, one of Seventh Avenue’s mainstay brands who grew to prominence in the 80’s becoming the cornerstone of working women wardrobes, is closing its wholesale and retail operations. The announcement from owner Sycamore Partners, who bought The Jones Group just a year ago, marks the end of an era for American Sportswear.

Jones was central to a core market of 45 year old plus consumers whose interest in their offerings and those of similar brands such as Liz Claiborne has wained over the last decade. The Jones Group reported a net loss of $56.1 million on revenues of $3.8 billion in 2012 with the Jones New York brand accounting for $643 million. This was down 19.1 percent from the 725 million the brand represented in 2011.

The brand was carried at stores such as Macy’s, Lord & Taylor, Bon-Ton, Belk, Dillard’s, as well as its own outlets. As more compelling offers entered the market from retailers such as Zara to brands such as Michael Michael Kors, Jones New York lost its luster and experienced lackluster sales and mindshare.

In 2011 Jones’ then president and chief executive of branded business, Richard Dickson, and former chief creative officer, Stefani Greenfield, attempted to down age the brand with a more contemporary fit and offering. Be it too little too late or heading in the wrong direction, the effort was unable to turn the big ship of Jones in the right direction.

Industry speculation as to what may become of the brand leans toward brand management companies such as Iconix Brand Group or retailers such as Kohl’s taking on the brand. Liz Claiborne, who faced a similar fate, was recently absorbed by JCPenney as the retailer bought the marks and converted a portion of their private label offering to the brand. Trademarks for Jones New York are Jones New York, Jones New York Sport, Jones New York Signature, Jones New York Jeans and Jones Wear. There is value in those trademarks, which could result in a direct to retail licensing arrangement for a brand management firm or a conversion of a private label offering by a retailer. Either way, while there is brand recognition, that recognition is for a brand that was heading south and may need some time to stay there before being revived to come north again.jones.001