Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Luella ceases trading,

Chirpy London label Luella announced this morning that they will cease trading after their global ready to wear & accessories licensee Club 21 pulled its backing.

Although WWD recently implied that things were tricky at the label, it's hard to believe that a fashion house so closely allied with the British fashion zeitgeist should have come crashing down: after all there is the lovely shop, opened only in 2007, in the heart of the West End, and Luella, under the firm hand of ex-Mui Mui PR dynamo Diane Crook, has forged relationships with some of London's most high profile clothes horses, from Alexa Chung to Lily Allen.

It seems the writing was on the wall when Carla Carini, their ready to wear factory, shut last month, another victim of the economy, leaving Luella unable to fulfill their SS10 order book.

Luella's fashion star has been closely aligned with Mrs Ong's Club 21 fashion powerhouse since she designed her now iconic Gisele for Mulberry bag back in 2002. Club 21 were a significant shareholder in Mulberry and, after sales of the bag singlehandedly revived the ailing leather goods house, Club 21 became the global licensees for Luella, propelling the nascent brand into a place most young British designers take years to reach.

As the baby sister to Mrs Ong's major fashion investments - Club 21 run A/X Armani Exchange in the United States and the Giorgio and Emporio Armani franchises in the UK, as well as holding the international license for DKNY, Luella always had a lot to live up to.

The shuttering of the label comes at a particularly upsetting time: after bringing the label back to show in London after several seasons in New York, Bartley was named British Designer of the Year at the British Fashion Awards last year, and only last night she & her team opened Liberty's Christmas windows which they designed.

In a press release issued this morning, Bartley said, "This is a very disappointing situation for everyone involved with the brand… it is upsetting not to be able to protect jobs in this difficult economic climate. We have a number of options open to us, and are considering these over the coming months".