A fashion brand can become iconic for several reasons. It might introduce a radical new design, like Alexander McQueen’s dresses with wings. It might have endured for decades, like Chanel, Gucci, or Yves St. Laurent. It might have become associated with a well-remembered place in time, like the pillbox hat designed by Halston for Jackie Kennedy.
Whether it’s the little black dress, hippie-chic, or parachute pants, fashion has had an influence on culture and figures prominently in our memories of childhood, teen years, and adulthood. Some of the brands that brought us these styles have come and gone, but for the most part, they are fondly remembered. (But these are fashion trends only kids from the ‘90s will remember.)
To find the iconic fashion brands that no longer exist, 24/7 Tempo gleaned information from sources such as the Encyclopedia of Fashion, fashion industry media including WWD, and several financial and general interest sites. Though some items under the brand name can still be purchased, the list focused on companies that are no longer manufacturing products under their name.
According to Fashion Insiders & Co., fashion brands often fail because they make bad manufacturing choices. They also negotiate manufacturing prices without a clear understanding of operating margins and profit margins. And they commit to large minimum order quantities without a proven plan to sell the merchandise quickly, leading to overstocking. Overstock frequently occurs in boom times, when success obscures judgment.
The fickle tastes of teens sounded the death knell for brands such as Delia’s and Merry-Go-Round. For plus-size retailer Avenue, a decline in foot traffic hastened its demise. Related to that of course is the advent of e-commerce, which was a factor in the downfall of The Limited. All of these stores were mall staples, and malls have been negatively impacted by online shopping.
Other brands faded into the mists of fashion history when their visionary founders – such as Claire McCardell and Jacques Fath – passed away just as their brands were taking off.
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