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The New Bebe Tries to Draw a Line Between Sexy and Trashy

Scan via Marie Claire
Scan via Marie Claire

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Mall store Bebe enjoyed a heyday in the '80s and '90s but these days, it's seeking direction. The retailer, whose clothes can best be described as tight, skimpy and the opposite of subtle, has tried all sort of strategies in recent years to boost sales. They dipped a toe into designer collaborations (a less-than-memorable experiment with Imitation of Christ's Tara Subkoff), tested a workwear collection and even debuted a bridal line. Now, under the guidance of CEO Steve Birkhold, Bebe's returning to its sexy roots.

"For the Bebe girl, nine-to-five means 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.," says Birkhold, who describes Bebe's current wares as "sexy, not trashy." To promote its new look, the company's launched a microsite,, and is encouraging customers to tag their Instagrams with #be9to5. The brand is moving away from daywear to focus on women's going-out wardrobes. The question is: Can Bebe entice shoppers away from fellow sexy-trendy competitors like Nasty Gal and UK's Boohoo? A quick glance through the website doesn't reveal anything novel; there's a whole lot of leopard, mesh and cutouts. Just how many bandage skirts does a girl need? According to Bebe, lots.
· Seeking the Right Balance at Bebe [WWD]
· Bebe's New Bridal Line Is Everything You Hoped It Would Be [Racked]
· Bebe to Launch Workwear Tomorrow; Would You Wear This to Work? [Racked]