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Retail 'apocalypse,' Barney's fire sale claims Zac Posen as victim

The retail apocalypse has claimed its next victim.

Celebrity fashion designer Zac Posen was forced to close his namesake brand “House of Z” after nearly two decades, a “difficult” decision amid the changing fashion landscape.

According to Posen, “time ran out” for the brand after its majority-stake investor failed to secure a sale.

This comes in the wake of multiple, high-profile bankruptcies plaguing the industry — from fast fashion retailer Forever 21 filing for Chapter 11 protection back in September, to luxury department store Barneys New York recently completing its sale to Authentic Brands Group as it preps liquidation.

And in a strange twist of fate, Barneys was the store that gave Posen his start.

Zac Posen during Barneys New York Holiday Windows 2003 Fairytales and the City at Barneys New York in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage)

The 39-year-old designer established a name for himself in the industry by creating glamorous evening gowns and cocktail dresses that attracted the most elite clientele.

He dressed A-list stars from Miley Cyrus and Rihanna, to Katie Holmes and Clare Danes. He appeared alongside supermodel Heidi Klum on “Project Runway” for six years. He embraced the social media boom and amassed an impressive 1.9 million followers on Instagram.

Yet it still wasn’t enough.

The rules of fashion have drastically changed since the early 2000s, when Posen first rose to fame. Back then, the golden ticket to the top was wrapped in a pretty bow at Barneys or Saks Fifth Avenue, and success was measured in the cover pages of “Vogue” or department store window displays.

Now — thanks to the rise of social media, influencer marketing and online shopping — the path to success is much different. Only brands that distinguish themselves as unique and disruptive are able to break through the noise, experts say.

“I think the internet mobile has totally transformed retail,” Former Saks CEO Steve Sadove told Yahoo Finance during a recent interview.

“It’s not that everything is being bought on mobile, but mobile is probably affecting 80% of purchasing decisions,” he explained. “But it’s not just the internet, it’s having the infrastructure and the capabilities to be able to play across channels, those are the winners.”

Posen’s troubles are indicative of the new reality for the retail sector, as consumers continue to spend briskly and have retained an optimistic outlook. From food, apparel and electronic sales, the web is reshaping the consumer sector — and this time of the year is critical for retailers.

According to the National Retail Federation, holiday sales are expected to grow between 3.8 and 4.2 percent with online and other non-store sales increasing between 11 and 14 percent — up from $146.5 billion last year.

Alexandra Canal is a Producer at Yahoo Finance.

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