Image: Carven

Carven is in financial trouble. The Paris-based brand and its parent company, Société Béranger, filed a voluntary petition with the Commercial Court in Paris in a preceding that mirrors Chapter 11 bankruptcy in May, in order to remain in business, while it reorganizes and establishes a plan to pay off its creditors. According to spokesman for Carven, the 74-year old house, which was “already [in a financially] fragile [position],” suffered a several million dollar setback thanks to an unexpected delay in production for its Spring/Summer 2018 collection.

Prompted to cancel deliveries of the collection designed by creative director Serge Ruffieux this spring, WWD stated that Carven suffered a significant loss to its annual revenue, which is an estimated $23.5 million. The move shines a very clear light one the cash- and inventory-intensive nature of, as well as the strict delivery timeline, often associated with the traditional fashion business. 

As a result of its May 2018 filing in French court, Carven has been “put into receivership,” a legal proceeding in which companies are placed into the responsibility of a legally-appointed individual, who acts as custodian of its assets and/or business operations. In addition to  entering into a period of financial recovery under the watch of the as-of-now unnamed receiver (hopefully), Carven is looking for a buyer. It was not revealed which of its eight existing shareholders, which including Bluebell, Sebaoun and Turenne Capital, are looking for an out.

The brand, which got its start under couturier Carmen de Tommasi in 1945, joins a long list of companies, both high fashion and mass, that have looked to legal protections in light of financial hardship.

As recently as this February, celebrated footwear brand Charlotte Olympia filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, with New York-based runway brand Bibhu Mohapratra filing for the same protections in early 2017. All the while, a slew of more mass market companies, including Nine West Group, Claire’s, Payless, The Limited, and Wet Seal have filed for bankruptcy over the past couple of years.

UPDATED (October 12, 2018): Shanghai-based Icicle Fashion Group, a high-end retailer little known outside China, has bought French couture house Carven out of bankruptcy and said on Friday it plans to relaunch the brand. According to Reuters, “The deal marks the latest incursion by a Chinese group into a fashion world long dominated by European players like conglomerate LVMH, owner of Louis Vuitton.” Icicle joins the likes of China’s Bosun, which acquired Lanvin earlier this year, and and Shandong Ruyi, which bought Swiss shoemaker Bally.