Nautica Brand Thrown Overboard by VF After Losing Its '90s Cool

(Bloomberg) -- Nautica, the apparel line known for its ’90s-era panache, is looking for a new owner to steer the ship.

VF Corp., the clothing giant that also owns North Face, Vans and Wrangler, announced on Friday that it was scrapping Nautica from its portfolio. The company reclassified the business as “discontinued operations” last quarter, though it hopes to find a buyer for the division.

The move follows a long slide for Nautica, a brand know for its bright colors and yacht lifestyles. The clothing line was embraced by hip-hop and R&B artists in the ’90s, part of a fashion scene that included prominent logos and oversized clothes. In recent years, though, consumers have shifted to fast fashion and upstart brands.

Rapper Lil Yachty tried to help rekindle Nautica’s appeal last year by unveiling a collection for the label, but it wasn’t enough to turn around the business.

VF is in active talks with several potential buyers to sell Nautica, though a final agreement hasn’t been reached, Chief Executive Officer Steve Rendle said on Friday. The announcement came as part of a disappointing earnings report that sent VF shares on their worst rout in more than two years.

Founded in 1983, Nautica was named for the Latin word “nauticus,” meaning ship. VF agreed to buy the brand in 2003 for $585.6 million to try to tap a higher-end market.

The company revamped Nautica’s leadership team last year, but sales have continued to suffer. The brand produced a net loss in 2017 of $95.2 million, and VF will report $130.2 million in writedowns to account for Nautica’s lost value.

“Nautica’s not gone -- it’s up for sale,” Rendle said in an interview. “Maybe a better owner can help it achieve its full potential.”

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