2017 Newsmaker: After Gordon Bros Bid, Wet Seal Reemerges

After a tumultuous period of proxy fights and bankruptcies, teen retailer The Wet Seal seemed to be about to call it quits.

In January, Wet Seal announced it would close all its physical stores. The news spelled the end of a retailer that had been selling teen fashions since 1962 and had been a familiar presence in malls for more than 50 years.

In 2013, Wet Seal, based at the time in Foothill Ranch, Calif., operated 464 stores for its Wet Seal division and 62 stores in its Arden B division, which closed in 2014.

But in March, Wet Seal got a reprieve. Gordon Brothers, a Boston-headquartered finance company with a focus on restructuring distressed companies, announced it had outbid its rivals to acquire the intellectual property of Wet Seal for $3 million, said Ramez Toubassy, president, brands for Gordon Brothers.

“Despite the increasing challenges facing teen retailers, we at Gordon Brothers strongly believe in the long-term viability of the category,” Toubassy said in a statement. “Our plan for Wet Seal is to rebuild and reposition the brand and develop a unique new business model to best position it for future success.”

Post deal, Wet Seal went on a hiatus, but on Sept. 8 the retailer sent a message on its Twitter feed: “You’ve been patient but the wait’s almost over! … We’re coming for ya!”

According to its website, the company is now headquartered in downtown Los Angeles. It currently sells tops, dresses, outerwear and accessories at Wet Seal’s Instagram account promises that in the future the retailer will be offering shoes and denim.