Jessica Simpson Scrambles to Rescue Her Clothing Label from Struggling Firm

by Jerald Dyson
Jessica Simpson Scrambles to Rescue Her Clothing Label from Struggling Firm

Jessica Simpson is scrambling to buy back her clothing brand from a struggling licensing company that is in danger of filing for bankruptcy, The Post has learned.

The 40-year-old former pop singer and her mother, Tina Simpson, are working with boutique investment bank Threadstone to raise cash to buy back the Jessica Simpson Collection from Sequential Brands, a licensing firm whose executive chairman has stepped down amid chaos at the company, according to a source.

William Sweedler, who launched Sequential a decade ago, resigned as executive chairman over the weekend, according to a regulatory filing, to “pursue other matters.” Sweedler’s resignation, the filing said, “did not involve a disagreement with the company on any matter relating to its operations, policies or practices.”

Shares of Sequential Brands — whose other brands include Joe’s Jeans, Ellen Tracy and Caribbean Joe — plunged 38 percent to $17.02 on Tuesday.

A Jessica Simpson’s spring style event at Dillard’s on May 6, 2017 in Waco, Texas - Kevin Mazur

Sequential Brands bought a 62.5 percent stake in Jessica Simpson in 2015 for $117 million from Vince Camuto, which had originally bought it for $15 million. Sequential grew it rapidly, with yearly sales at retail topping half a billion dollars before the pandemic, according to a source close to the company.

Unlike a slew of celebrity brands that launched around the same time in 2005 and flamed out — including Mandy Moore’s Mblem line, Lindsay Lohan’s Leggings, 6126, and Miley Cyrus’ collaboration with Max Azria for a line at Walmart — Simpson’s brand has had staying power.

The Jessica Simpson Collection — a collaboration among the singer, her mother and sister Ashlee Simpson — includes a children’s line, home goods and footwear. It has been sold in retail outlets including Macy’s, Nordstrom and Dillard’s.

Jessica Simpson introduces “Jessica Simpson Collection” at Macy’s Herald Square on November 3, 2007 in New York City - WireImage

But while the “With You” singer has been actively promoting her line — most recently an ad campaign in September featured the entertainer with her daughters — financial problems at Sequential have been mounting as the pandemic has crushed business at department stores. Sequential recently reported a debt burden of $463 million.

On Friday buyout firm KKR, a second-lien lender to Sequential, named Marjorie Bowen, a distressed retail expert and former managing director at investment bank Houlihan Lokey, to Sequential’s board, effective immediately — a move that insiders said looks like a preparation for a possible bankruptcy filing.

Sequential declined to comment on Tuesday.

Image Credit - WireImage

Sequential sold another high-profile brand, Martha Stewart’s homemaking empire, for $215 million in 2019 — mostly because the brand was costing the company more than it was worth, as The Post reported.

WWD first reported that Simpson is in talks with Threadstone to raise capital.

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