Say it ain't so: Bebe is, in fact, planning to shutter all of its brick and mortar locations, and soon, per a Securities & Exchange Commission filing this week. In February, the brand planned to close 21 stores, and last month, Bloomberg reported that the closures would affect an even larger proportion of the mall staple's outposts and segue into an e-comm-only business. Now, it's clear that the closures are far more substantial: per the SEC filing, the chain is shuttering all of its locations, which amounts to 134 locations of Bebe proper and 34 Bebe Outlet stores.
Days are numbered for the purveyor of constrictive club wares and rhinestoned tees: The closures will be complete by the end of May, according to the filing. When reached for further information and confirmation about the impending closures, Bebe reps provided Refinery29 with a brief statement from last month explaining that the company and its board of directors was "exploring strategic alternatives" and that there was " no assurance that this process will result in any specific transaction." The chain's shares dropped 10% this morning as a result of the filing, per WWD. So, if you're vying for a farewell souvenir before the early-aughts hotspot bites the dust, you'll probably want to plot that mall trip ASAP.
This story was originally published on March 21, 2017.
Of all the things we expected to go in 2017, we can confidently say that all of our mid-aughts mall haunts weren't high on the list. And yet, not three months into the year, we've seen our once-beloved Wet Seal, The Limited, BCBG Max Azria, and more scale back their brick-and-mortar presence, if not shut it down all together. Next on the retail chopping block appears to be Bebe, which will reportedly close stores in order to pivot towards becoming an online-only brand, Bloomberg has learned.
The retailer, which was founded in 1998, announced last month that it would close 25 Bebe and Bebe Outlet stores this year, WWD reported. However, Bloomberg found that the changes will actually be much more drastic, according to those familiar with the situation — and that the retailer might disappear from the floorplan of your local mall together.
We can credit Bebe with our initial introduction to bodycon, as well as a leading player in bedazzled logomania circa the mid-aughts. (You can still purchase its rhinestone-embellished branded tees on its website, FYI.) Plus, let's not forget that, technically, Bebe played a role in launching the fashion careers of the Kardashians: Kim, Kourtney, and Khloé teamed up with the retailer to design their first collection for spring '10. (They went on to stage a joint fashion show the following season.) At one point, Kim had her own line of jewelry for the store. It was a simpler time — one that lives on forever in the not-so-deep depths of eBay.
Bloomberg reports that Bebe is trying to go about the store closures without having to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy (as many other brands have), since it doesn't have large amounts of debt, which separates it from some of its competitors that have faced an increasingly difficult landscape. Still, the news is concerning — although, not surprising — given the astonishing number of closures we're expecting in 2017. Let's just say that our teen selves are pretty bummed about all these shutterings.
We've reached out to Bebe for comment and will update our story when we hear back.