The Rise And Fall Of Juicy Couture

Irene Kim: Juicy Couture
was an iconic part of early 2000s fashion. Its velour tracksuits and
matching oversized bags were everything and everywhere. But Juicy went from making
$605 million in sales at its peak in 2008 to being sold for less
than a third of that five years later. So, what happened? Juicy’s story begins
with these two ladies, Gela Nash-Taylor and Pamela Skaist-Levy. They met while working at a
Los Angeles boutique in 1988. When Nash-Taylor became pregnant, she couldn’t find any
fashionable maternity clothing. As a solution, she started
making maternity pants out of her husband’s
jeans, which inspired her and Skaist-Levy to start
a maternity clothing line, Travis Jeans for the Baby in You. The pair’s stylish
maternity jeans took off, despite their $89 price tag. By the early 1990s, it expanded into a full maternity line. But around 1994, after feeling like they lost touch with the maternity market, the pair decided to
pivot to something new: developing the perfect
luxury V-neck shirt. Nash-Taylor and Skaist-Levy
focused on four things: fit, fabric, comfort, and color. They both tried on their samples to make sure the V-neck covered
the right part of the arm, didn’t plunge too deep, and, overall, made your body
look as good as possible, things male designers fitting
T-shirts on size 0 models maybe weren’t taking into consideration. After perfecting their design, they released it in 26 colors under their new label, Juicy Couture. When Juicy first started in 1995, the economy was beginning to recover from the 1990 to 1991 recession, and consumers were hungry for expensive, or at least expensive-sounding, products. So Nash-Taylor and Skaist-Levy wanted the brand name to convey luxury. They also loved the irony of naming their casual T-shirt line “couture.” Juicy Couture quickly grew in popularity and expanded to include knit tops, accessories, and a
successful Juicy Jeans line. But it wasn’t the
full-fledged lifestyle brand its founders wanted it to be…yet. Nash-Taylor and Skaist-Levy
looked to the brands they grew up with during
the ’60s and ’70s for ideas. Both thought terry cloth was “the most amazing 1970s fabric” and came up with a line of
tops and bottoms made from it. The silhouette of what would become Juicy’s signature tracksuit was created with the same purpose as
the original Juicy V-neck: to be as flattering as possible. The zip-up hoodie was
designed with front pockets to hide any stomach pooch and cut with an hourglass
shape to nip in your waist. Nash-Taylor and Skaist-Levy
also added custom hardware: a J-pull zipper that
branded every tracksuit as uniquely Juicy Couture. The tracksuit bottoms were originally made with an underwear elastic, but when that proved to be too loose, Juicy’s founders switched to a quick cord they’d used for their maternity line. It worked perfectly. Juicy Couture released its
now iconic tracksuits in 2001, and they became a phenomenon. Not to mention, at $155, Juicy Couture’s tracksuits weren’t cheap, but they were accessible. Julia DiNardo: The price
point was a little bit high for essentially a glorified sweatshirt, but with a little bit of midriff
showing, the cool bootleg, and seeing celebrities in
some oversized sunglasses wearing it out and about, it kind of met that balance of just-within-reach pricing and somewhat of a luxury
item pooled into one. Kim: And it was seeing
celebrities wear Juicy Couture that really drove the brand’s success. Around the time Juicy Couture launched, tabloid celebrities like Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan were
becoming a national obsession. Tabloids like Us Weekly and People were documenting everything America’s favorite stars were doing, and Juicy was able to
take advantage of it. Because its founders didn’t have the funds for traditional marketing,
they got creative, gifting tracksuits to celebrities. While this is pretty
common today, Skaist-Levy and Nash-Taylor were one
of the first to do it. They didn’t find success
overnight, but eventually Juicy’s tracksuits were being seen on all the right celebrities. DiNardo: The attraction
to celebrity culture in the early 2000s is
really what contributed Juicy to become such a popular brand. It really was the height of: “Celebrities! They’re just like us.” Seeing Britney Spears go get
a cup of coffee at Starbucks in her Juicy Couture
tracksuits, seeing Paris Hilton shopping all over town in
her Juicy Couture tracksuit. Kim: Juicy’s founders
even kept a photo wall of every celebrity who
wore their tracksuit. Soon, Juicy Couture was exclusively sold at upscale department stores like Bergdorf Goodman
and Saks Fifth Avenue. In 2003, Juicy Couture was
purchased by Liz Claiborne, now known as Kate Spade & Company, for $226 million to be paid over a five-year period. Juicy was colorful, fun, and covered in logos
during a time when people couldn’t get enough of
showing off the brands they were buying and wearing. DiNardo: It wouldn’t be a Juicy product without the Juicy label or
insignia or logo of some kind. Skaist-Levy: It makes people happy. Nash-Taylor: Juicy, it
is, it’s a happy brand. People love it. Kim: Net sales nearly
doubled from 2006 to 2007. By 2008, Juicy Couture had 100 stores generating a total of
$605 million in sales. The brand also expanded to include jewelry and a successful fragrance
line with Elizabeth Arden. But then the recession hit. While most brands struggled
following the recession, Juicy Couture’s flashy branding particularly stopped
resonating with customers. DiNardo: So, during the 2008 recession, fashion was at a point where the “it” bag was really not an “it” thing anymore. It felt a little bit too
gregarious, over the top, and proud in the wrong way,
so things started to recede; not that people weren’t shopping, but they weren’t buying
things that were so blatant as to what they were
and how much they cost. Kim: The recession inspired a movement towards minimalism, which was pretty much the opposite of what
Juicy Couture embodied. DiNardo: Juicy as a label was all about that flashiness and that fun. And so, there was a somberness
to fashion, a seriousness, after 2008, and it really
wasn’t on-brand for Juicy. Kim: Sales fell 11%
year-over-year in 2009. In 2010, founders Skaist-Levy and Nash-Taylor left the company, citing a loss of ability
to help their brand evolve. Sale numbers continued to drop
as Juicy failed to keep up with the growing
contemporary fashion market. While labels like Alexander Wang and Theory quickly pivoted to add more pieces to their
collections, Juicy didn’t. In 2013, Juicy Couture was officially sold to Authentic Brands
Group for $195 million. The company has an eclectic portfolio, including the licensing
rights for the estates of Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe. The group announced plans to close all of Juicy Couture’s US stores but said it would reopen five to 10 as it rebuilds the brand. ABG later made a deal with
discount retailer Kohl’s to sell Juicy-branded products,
effectively abandoning the brand’s veneer of
luxury for many loyal fans. Despite its fall from department
store to discount bin, Juicy Couture has been angling
for a comeback for years. A 2016 collaboration with
cult fashion brand Vetements re-sparked interested and
lent Juicy some street cred. Kylie Jenner even posted a picture wearing a pricey tracksuit
from the collection. In 2017, Juicy Couture
appointed Hollywood stylist Jamie Mizrahi as its
new creative director. The brand debuted its new collection with a New York Fashion Week party with OG Juicy Couture lover and living brand embodiment Paris Hilton. Pieces from the collection were available on Juicy’s website, as well as Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s, with prices
ranging from $30 to $400. This marked an upscale pivot for the brand after being sold at Kohl’s since 2014. In 2018, Juicy Couture
released its first-ever runway collection to show pieces from its main contemporary
line, Juicy Couture Black Label. It also released two new
cosmetic collections, which have been met with
varying degrees of excitement. As for whether we’ll be seeing Juicy’s tracksuit everywhere again: DiNardo: I think they could capitalize on those customers that
were in their teens or late teens when the brand was popular. Now those women are moms, and they want something
comfortable but pulled together. It’s quite possible that the
tracksuit could be that item. Kim: Plus, Juicy Couture
could fit right into the athleisure market that’s continuing to dominate the fashion industry. And with so many other
early 2000s fashion trends coming back, who knows? 2020 could be Juicy Couture’s year.

100 Replies to “The Rise And Fall Of Juicy Couture

  1. No self-respecting woman who wants to be taken seriously would wear those things. And with Juicy at the buttocks? Good grief!

  2. I bought a juicy couture bag way after it was popular. I'm cheap so the trends of the time are trends to me when I can go to a garage sale or thrift store to buy it. lol. I had two purses of them and although cute they would tear apart and sad because I loved the keychains on the them.

  3. The incredible trashiness of these never ceased to amaze me. I mean the tracksuit itself would've probably been fine and comfy but those giant tacky logos and faux gemstones.. EUGH

  4. how are the tracksuits trashy? its literally just sweatpants and a jacket. there are girls walking around with their ass cheeks hanging out is that not trashy?

  5. I used to want one of the OG Juicy purses so badly. I bought a holographic bag of theirs while the brand was sold at Kohl's. I still love and use that bag regularly.

    Fun and colorful is my aesthetic. I hate the minimalism trend. I don't care if Juicy gets popular again by copying what other brands do… I'd want their iconic style to come back.

  6. I got the really glittery pink one as a hand me down in high school and while wearing them i felt like the biggest douche ever. But they were comfortable. Also i was really mean to the mean girls and the cocky rich boys, does that count? Lol good times

  7. models doing duck face selfies isnt "period." how about some accuracy for a change. i bet you think the definition of dupe means duplicate or fake too.


  9. They don’t make em like they use too😩 in love with juicy couture I aspire to have my own clothing line one day

  10. Honestly I still wear Juicy when I’m running errands or around the house. It’s comfortable and flattering idc 😂

  11. I wish they’d stop making that perfume. Coworkers always wear it and it gives me an instant headache. I’ve told them and they still wear it. People are so selfish and shitty. Especially the types of girls who have to have all the latest trends. Donate to a charity instead of wasting your money on chemicals that are bad for you.

  12. The same people who claim Juicy Couture is tacky and logos are out of date are the same people who wear Victoria’s Secret Pink

  13. I first noticed Juicy Couture in J Lo's I'm Real video. I still have my sweatsuits stashed in the back of my closet.

  14. The problem (in the UK at least) was because JC became waaaay too Chavtastic for anyone with any class to be seen dead in lol I still cringe when a very occasional JC tracksuit appear in TK Max.

  15. Dang I recent bought underwear by them from tk Maxx and loved them, this is explains why I can't find more 😂
    Never liked the trousers fit but tops looked ok

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