House of Fraser to revitalise Swinging Sixties brand Biba

DEPARTMENT store House of Fraser is this week set to breathe new life back into Biba, the cult clothing brand which defined the 1960s.

Biba, which will now be fronted by model Daisy Lowe, is to relaunch on Wednesday at the group’s Oxford Street store, featuring leopard print, faux-fur and denim clothing, party frocks and jewellery.

The iconic brand, which opened its first store in Kensington in 1964, was previously a favourite with models such as Bianca Jagger and Twiggy, but closed its doors just over a decade later in 1975.

However, despite its former popularity, subsequent attempts to revitalise the brand have fallen short of the mark. Biba’s most recent relaunch, courtesy of the Liechtenstein-based investment fund Hachel International Foundation, ended up with Grant Thornton being appointed as administrators just two years ago.

The brand was acquired late last year by House of Fraser, which said it would look to make Biba “more accessible” to today’s generation of shoppers.

The group is set to position the label alongside its own-brand names such as Linea, Therapy and Untold.

The launch this week, which will see Biba rolled out to 30 of House of Fraser’s department stores for the autumn, comes as the group prepares to announce a booming set of figures for the first half of the year.

Like-for-like sales for the six months to the end of July rose by 8.4 per cent.

TIME LINE | HISTORY OF AN ICONIC BRAND
● 1964
Biba, the brainchild of Polish fashion designer Barbara Hulanicki, launches its very first store in London’s Kensington. The brand soon became the go-to fashion store for models and rock royalty including Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones, David Bowie, The Beatles and Marianne Faithfull.

● 1969
Biba becomes a limited company; Dorothy Perkins takes a major stake.

● 1974
Dorothy Perkins, now owned by British Land, is forced to sell the rights to the brand due to a property market crash.

● 1978
Biba brand relaunched on two floors of a shop on Conduit Street in Mayfair, though it lasted less than two years.

● 2006
Biba brand resurrected by licensee Michael Pearce, the man who brought Australia’s Ugg boots to the UK. But the idea does not take hold and the brand falls into the clutches of administrators Grant Thornton just two years later.

● November 2009
Department store chain House of Fraser snaps up the rights to the Biba brand late last year.

● September 2010
Biba set to undergo its latest reincarnation within the House of Fraser stable.