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New Deal Draws Laura Ashley Back Into Fashion

Laura Ashley parent Gordon Brothers inked an IMG deal that brings the label to fashion, beauty, homeware and hospitality items through licensing and retail partnerships and collaborations.

The partnership spans Europe, Australia, New Zealand, China, India and the Middle East.

“Our focus in working with IMG will be to select additional strategic partnerships and collaborations to help bring the brand’s distinct aesthetic to consumers globally while continuing to develop our current brand partnerships,” Tobias Nanda, president of Gordon Brothers’ brands division, said.

Tim Smith, vice president at IMG, said Laura Ashley’s “iconic, quality-led designs, prints and patterns have continued to inspire the most coveted styles and fashion trends around the world” for nearly seven decades.

“We are eager to leverage this rich heritage and the Laura Ashley archive, comprising more than 98,000 pieces of unique artwork, textiles and footage, to develop relevant new fashion and lifestyle products for existing and new fans of the brand,” Smith added.

Laura Ashley founded the British brand in 1953 with her husband Bernard Ashley after she initially entered the home textiles market in the 1950s, producing screen-printed fabrics for napkins and table mats before expanding into apparel a decade later. But it was fashion and dresses that led to the first of several Laura Ashley stores in South Kensington in 1968. The Laura Ashley brand’s licensing business spawned several department store concessions and birthed a global lifestyle brand. By the 1980s, the brand had further penetrated the home furnishings sector with several home-focused retail outlets focused.

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Laura Ashley filed for insolvency in March 2020 in the wake of coronavirus challenges. One month later, Gordon Brothers acquired the brand’s intellectual property (IP) assets for an undisclosed sum.

Gordon Brothers has been building up its brand division, taking over bankrupt Wet Seal’s IP in 2017 and later acquiring British streetwear brand Bench.

Gordon Brothers planned to eventually open Laura Ashley branded stores in key U.K. and Irish markets. Six months after acquiring the IP assets, Gordon Brothers inked a licensing agreement with Next plc to reintroduce Laura Ashley home products online and in select Next stores in the U.K. and in Ireland last spring. Next has more than 500 stores in the U.K. and Ireland, and digital operations in 70 countries.

Batsheva collaborated with Laura Ashley on a fashion drop late last year, Gordon Brothers said on Thursday. In addition, the American parent, best known for its history working with distressed assets and liquidations, began developing brand partnerships for Laura Ashley in Korea, Japan and the U.S.