Vermont Clothing Brand Ibex Lays Off Workers

Previous reports that the company is shutting down are false


More than half of the employees at Vermont wool clothing company Ibex have been laid off, and the company is seeking “significant changes” in its business to continue operating, the brand announced today. A previous report by trade publication SNEWS that Ibex is shutting down is inaccurate, company representatives said.

The company remains in business, is shipping product, and the website is taking orders.

In a statement, Ibex CEO Ted Manning said, “Contrary to a significant number of rumors, Ibex is still operating today. And while it is not clear how the story ends, all the paths forward will require very significant changes in the organization, the business model and the ownership structure.”

Ibex, like many brands, has struggled with the extraordinary changes in retailing. Amazon, not to mention Walmart, has helped usher a revolution in how consumers shop for and purchase goods. Old school chains like Sports Authority and Sport Chalet are gone, and the parent company of Eastern Mountain Sports filed for bankruptcy in February. Beyond outdoor, Toys R Us, Wet Seal, the Limited, and RadioShack are also recent bankruptcy victims.

Manufacturers are responded by shifting their business models to what’s called direct-to-consumer, or DTC. By eliminating the middle man, profit margins can be higher, and that’s the path Ibex announced in July. The fall 2017 collection was to be the last in brick-and-mortar stores, and by spring 2018 Ibex expected to be fully DTC.

Manning’s statement continued, “‘What happened?’ is what gets asked the most. Which we have come to realize means ‘Whom do I blame?’ for most people. Not an easy question, and there is no simple answer. As much as Ibex has succeeded and created opportunities for itself, it has also dealt with the headwinds of seasonal volatility, shifts in the retail landscape and
an ever-changing consumer. It is not value of brand, quality of product or passion of its people that lead to this place.

“Today, November 7, 2017, Ibex continues to operate in anticipation of more significant changes in our business in the next few months. To that end, we also said goodbye to a few teams and friends last week. In total, 12 roles were eliminated last Friday. There are 20 employees still here in Vermont and more in our three retail stores. And while changes are happening in the business, our website and stores are still open. Each day we show up trying to support one another and trying to create the best outcome for Ibex.”

AJ will update the story as developments unfold.

 

Steve Casimiro is the editor of Adventure Journal. Follow him on Instagram at @stevecasimiro.
Showing 21 comments
  • Gregory Hadley
    Reply

    Hang in there PLEASE……………….

  • jr
    Reply

    I hope it can make it. I have a few Ibex items and the are great.

  • Sean Butler
    Reply

    Such a bummer to hear this. Not only do I love their clothing (and wear it everyday), it’s been really inspirational to see a young company championing high-performance, natural fiber products and sustainable supply chains. Fingers crossed they’re able to make the changes they need to make.

  • Steve Threndyle
    Reply

    It’s painful when a good company like this fades from the scene. There could be a comeback, but reasonably speaking, I don’t think that you’re going to sell $200 wool sweaters and shirts etc. without going into a store and trying them on. Oh, for the great old days of independent retailers, pre Amazon, pre branded stores… That, and the fact is that the world is awash in cheap textiles, conspire against them as well.

  • Bill
    Reply

    Hey AJ,

    You know that this story is BS. Contrary to what you say, the brand has decided to file Chapter 7.

    Also, DTC sales are super expensive and Ibex, like many other small brands can’t afford to acquire customers direct. Wholesale customers are still the cheapest to acquire. But Ibex couldn’t ever build enough brand equity to sell anything full price, as they continually stabbed their own retailers in the back.

    • Steve Casimiro
      Reply

      We don’t know what the brand has decided or we would have reported it.

      • Bill
        Reply

        Hey AJ,

        Well – there it is. I chose to wait until today (the day that you had to post that Ibex was done) to post this because – despite your protestations – it’s been well known in the industry that the brand was finished since early November. I don’t know if you chose to mislead, or if Manning told a good story. However, the perception inside the industry has been that you were acting as a mouthpiece for the venture capital group as they cynically tried to extract maximum value by changing the story after they accidentally tipped their hand too early. I hope that it was an honest mistake on your part.

    • Marc
      Reply

      Hello Bill, I’m curious in what context do you leave your comment? Are you a retailer that’s been stabbed in the back by Ibex? Are you a small brand manufacturer that has researched DTC without much luck? I’m interested in your comments and how they can constructively shed light on this subject so that it helps other other small brand manufacturers avoid this mistake, if in fact, it’s avoidable.

      • Johnny Adventure
        Reply

        Bill, I think what Marc is saying is quite accurate. I love the brand but the bottom line is this: Almost all lifestyle brands that have their own retail stores will begin laying people off or even closing in the next 2 years or less. Its simple business. The retail model has changed and will never go back. Skyrocketing rent, build out costs, and advertising to drive customers to the stores is off the charts. Stores that have to outlay 20 or 30 grand a month for overhead and payroll can’t compete with online models. That’s a fact.

  • kyle
    Reply

    Love the picture for this story.. a split boarder, a alpine skier and a telemark skier!

  • KJ
    Reply

    Super sad, because I love their brand.

  • Jared Hoke
    Reply

    I am wearing a treasured Ibex wool vest (I have several) as I write “que LASTIMA!”

  • Catherine
    Reply

    Please, keep going!
    Please bring back the cotton/wool pants (with the tiny yellow pocket inside). Mine are going to wear out before I tire of wearing them

  • NatefromStowe
    Reply

    If you’re really worried about the troubles of a great brand making great products, here is easy fix that’ll benefit everyone – go online, sign up for their newsletter, and buy some stuff.

    Ibex, I’m a Vermonter, and I just spent $180 on your website in a show of support. Keep making great products, and we’ll keep buying them.
    Nate

    • Steve Casimiro
      Reply

      Yay, Nate from Stowe!

      • Alan Lemire
        Reply

        Indeed. As Outdoor Enthusiasts we need to put our money where our mouth is. Don’t buy from huge conglomerates that are simply middlemen. Spend your money (and YES, it might be more expensive and you may not get it shipped for free in two days) with companies that you believe in. That way they’ll stay around.

        • Steve Casimiro
          Reply

          Might I suggest starting with AJ Quarterly? 🙂

          Subscribe here.

  • Jonna Lazarus
    Reply

    Please! I would hate to see anything happen to this wonderful in every way company. Have ben a steady on line customer since since I first dicovered you years ago. I love Ibex and have introduced it to so many people.
    What can we do to help?
    Jonna Lazarus

  • Scott
    Reply

    Maybe they could follow SlingFin’s lead and use Wefunder to make their customers equity stakeholders and raise operating capital through the JOBS Act that President Obama championed to help smaller businesses.

  • betsey burdett
    Reply

    Regardless of whatever has gone on, I would like to leave a note of thanks for all the great product over the years. It has been and remains to be my main wardrobe in all seasons. I am proud to wear IBEX and to sing the praises. Thanks so much. !

  • Marilyn Dispensa
    Reply

    I’ve ordered thousands of dollars of Ibex over the last 10 years. I haven’t ordered for a while and just unpacked an old ibex and decided to browse and so it was closed. I have been a bit disappointed in the last year or two with their selection. They’ve really reduced there cycling clothes for women and seemed to go more fashion focused than outdoorsy focused. I loved their gloves and still have some brand new pairs that I ordered extra of.

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