scorecardThe rise and fall of Barneys, the iconic New York luxury department store teetering on the brink of collapse
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The rise and fall of Barneys, the iconic New York luxury department store teetering on the brink of collapse

The rise and fall of Barneys, the iconic New York luxury department store teetering on the brink of collapse
Retail2 min read

satc barneys

HBO

Carrie Bradshaw of "Sex and the City" gazes in a Barneys window.

Barneys New York is awaiting an uncertain fate after nearly a century of selling luxury apparel to Manhattan's elite.

The luxury department store - long heralded as a beacon of high style in New York City and a favorite among celebrities and fashionistas - is currently in the process of finding a buyer to prevent liquidation after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in August. The decision came after several quarters of sales woes thanks to increased competition from e-commerce, declining foot traffic, and skyrocketing rent prices.

As part of the bankruptcy announcement, Barneys is shuttering 15 of its 22 stores, though it plans to retain its iconic Manhattan flagship location. While Barneys' downfall may seem like a surprise to some, this isn't the first time the company was on the brink of collapse - the department store also suffered a near fatal blow in the 1990s.

Read more: New York's iconic luxury department store chain Barneys has filed for bankruptcy

Though Barneys isn't alone in its fight to stave off the retail apocalypse, the brand has larger reputational issues on its hands, according to New York Times fashion critic Vanessa Friedman. Somewhere along the way, Barneys went from aspirational to punishingly elitist - it failed to adapt to the modern shopper, and in turn consumer sentiment soured.

"[Barneys] was also unabashedly elitist, proudly exclusionary - you got it or you didn't, and if you didn't, that was your problem, not theirs - and imbued with an arrogance that, at a certain point, began to chafe," Friedman wrote after the bankruptcy announcement.

Here's a closer look at the rise and fall of Barneys New York.

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