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True Religion files for bankruptcy again as denim’s allure fades

True Religion jeans brand label
True Religion has filed for bankruptcy protection for the second time in three years.
(Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times)

True Religion Apparel Inc., once a fast-growing premium jeans brand, filed for bankruptcy protection in Delaware on Monday, its second Chapter 11 filing since 2017.

The company, acquired by New York- and London-based investment management firm TowerBrook Capital Partners in 2013 for $824 million, lists assets and liabilities of as much as $500 million each in Monday’s petition.

Founded in 2002 and headquartered in Manhattan Beach, True Religion made its mark as a designer jeans maker when premium denim was a hot fashion trend in the mid-2000s. The label could be spotted on the legs of celebrities such as Eva Longoria and Cindy Crawford.

Rivals such as Diesel and 7 for All Mankind, which have had their share of financial woes recently, thrived during this era as well.

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Much of that luster faded over the years as competition intensified and shoppers shifted to more casual options such as Lululemon Athletica Inc.’s yoga pants. True Religion has tried to adapt by creating its own line of workout wear.

After True Religion’s first bankruptcy filing in 2017, it emerged four months later with plans to reinvigorate the brand by adopting a nostalgic, throwback vibe. In November, True Religion hired its former president Michael Buckley as its top executive.

The brand is sold in its own shops and several major department stores, including Macy’s and Neiman Marcus, which hasn’t helped its financial prospects with that sector struggling and closing stores.

Clothing retailers across the U.S. have been particularly hard hit by the economic shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. Malls and stores are closed, with more than a million employees placed on furlough. True Religion has about 100 stores in the U.S.


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