Venus Williams played her first round U.S. Open match under the lights Tuesday night, wearing a new style dress from her Steve & Barry's "Eleven" line.
Last year, Williams' move to take a deal with the innovative low-cost retailer got a lot of attention as Williams, who had played without a shoe and apparel deal for more than a year, was really the first mainstream sports star to go non-traditional with the deal.
But a lot has happened since then. The retailer made a series of mistakes, including overexpansion, and this week was officially bailed out for $163 million by BHY S&B Holdings, a partnership of Bay Harbour Management and York Capital.
Williams, who owns the trademark to her line and sublicenses it to Steve & Barry's, is contractually obligated to continue the relationship with the entity, but Williams' agent Carlos Fleming says his client is still very happy with the relationship.
"With Steve & Barry's staying intact, what has happened is going to be transparent to the public and we expect our relationship to remain status quo," Fleming said.
"And Bay Harbour has a great reputation in retail. Knowing what they did with Barney's, we're confident that we will continue to benefit from the premise of high quality product at a valuable price."
Despite the happenings of the summer, the company still managed to turn out new outfits for Williams at the French, Wimbledon, the Olympics and the U.S. Open, said Howard Schacter of Steve & Barry's. (Although Schacter added that some of the Eleven merchandise that is now flowing back into stores was delayed, because of the company's bankruptcy filing.)
While Williams and other celebrities who have forged deals with the company have said they have received all royalty payments to date, Stephon Marbury says the company owes him more than $2 million.
Marbury, whose Starbury line is a licensee of Steve & Barry's and still has a couple years left on their contract, has filed suit in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, hoping to stop the sale. Marbury was quoted as saying he was going to sell his shoes on Amazon.com instead.
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