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Bernshaw to close after 70 years

Occasionwear brand Bernshaw is closing after 70 years, making the autumn 15 collection its last.

The brand has already delivered its autumn orders and all creditors have been paid in full.

Director Alex Bernstein, who runs the brand with his sister Sara Brett, said the indie occasionwear market has been “dwindling”.

He added: “The high street has changed – you can’t survive doing two to three collections a year anymore. Topshop and Zara have new styles in every month, but we don’t have the capacity to do that.

“After creating such a successful brand, we feel now is the right time to go out on a high. We have been privileged to work with many fantastic celebrities, boutiques and colleagues over the years and we would like to say thank you to everyone who has been part of the Bernshaw journey.”

Bernshaw was established by Alex and Sara’s grandparents Phyllis and Edward Bernstein in London in 1945.

It was sold in Harrods and Selfridges in the 1950s, dressed the cast of US soap Dallas in the 1980s and became known for quickly reinterpreting celebrity styles, such as the dress Demi Moore wore in the 1993 film Indecent Proposal.

Today, the brand has 120 UK stockists including Harvest on London’s King’s Road, Anne Furbank in St Neots and Jane Davidson in Edinburgh, and a further 30 across Europe. Wholesale prices range from £99 for a short jersey and lace dress to £190 for a full-length sequined evening dress.

Rebecca Furbank, managing director of Anne Furbank, said: “I’m really sad to hear this; they’ve been going a long time. The long evening dress market has changed - we stopped doing those five years ago and now just do cocktail dresses and wedding/daytime occasionwear - but they filled a nice little niche for us. It’s stylish.”

Sarah Murray, owner of premium womenswear indie Jane Davidson at 52 Thistle Street in Edinburgh, said: “It’s very sad. The product fitted well, the quality was good and although I only did small amount it filled a niche and sold well. Dresses with half sleeves, sheer bolero jackets; they were very commercial and worked.”

Gilly Poole, manager and buyer for Northampton-based womenswear indie Berties, said: “Bernshaw is a brand we slot in to cater for a certain client; it appeals to those who want a little bit of structure. It can be quite samey, but it always fits amazingly well.”

Brett, who is design director, said: “It has been an honour to design Bernshaw’s eveningwear, which has been worn by many glamorous women over the years from Twiggy to Darcey Bussell. To be part of so many occasions and happy memories has been truly special for all of us.”

@KirstyMcGregor

Readers' comments (1)

  • An iconic label. Sad day.

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