A backstage look at Aquascutum's current spring/summer'12 collection
Aquascutum, the 161-year old British heritage brand is said to be on the ‘brink of collapse’ after British Fashion Council Chairman Harold Tillman sold a majority stake in sister company Jaeger yesterday. Last Spring the company closed its store doors on Regent Street after 110 years at the same site and today the brand announced that its press day - which had been scheduled for tomorrow – would be cancelled due to ‘unforeseen circumstances’.
Despite the fact that the brand is steeped in such rich history – the label’s classic trench coats first created during WWI have an impressive and varied roll call that includes old-school Hollywood starlets, the Queen and countless important figureheads in between – it is now expected that administrators from FRP Advisory will be called in today putting up to 250 jobs at risk. Harold Tillman purchased Aquascutum in 2009 in a deal which united the brand with Jaeger, saving the high street stalwart from collapse. Since then Tillman and other shareholders have been fighting to keep Aquascutum afloat, with heavy investment – circa £30 million – going into it's turnaround, but the costs have proved too burdensome and yesterday he sold his 90% stake. "The challenging conditions in the UK has unfortunately meant that the team have been unable to successfully turn the business around which has ultimately resulted in its administration. The Board hopes that under FRP Advisory, the business will be disposed of successfully." Says the press release which has just hit our inboxes.
Bizarrely, on the flipside, there are many other heritage brands like Burberry, Louis Vuitton and Gucci that are booming overseas (especially in the Far East) and even with Aquascutum trying out two new-blood designers (Joanna Skyes and previously Michael Herz) since Tillman’s takeover as an attempt reinvigorate the house, the market has unfortunately not responded. Here’s hoping that the new buyer – Jon Moulton of Better Capital – can find the exact formula to get this legendary fashion house up off its knees and projected successfully into the fashion future. We’ll all be eagerly watching…