NEW YORK, United States — Bibhu Mohapatra filed for bankruptcy protection in New York on Tuesday, citing just over $1 million in debt.
The New York-based Indian designer is known for his embellished, colourful gowns and elegant daywear, a rare offering in today's increasingly casual culture. He has dressed some of the most influential women in the United States including outgoing First Lady Michelle Obama, who has worn his designs on many occasions, most notably when she stepped off the plane in India on an official visit in 2015.
"It is business as usual while this process proceeds" said Mohapatra. "This brief period of restructuring will allow us to emerge stronger than ever and more able to deliver the finest products and experience that I take so much pride and joy in bringing to our customers around the world."
The bankruptcy news comes at a challenging time for small designer brands on both sides of the Atlantic, particularly those operating without outside investment and dependent on a wholesale model. In the last year alone, Ohne Titel, Suno and Jonathan Saunders have shuttered and Mohapatra will likely not be the last of the younger designer brands to face financial challenges.
Mohapatra's namesake line is available at Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue and other high-end boutiques. He also currently designs a fur line licensed through BC International and declared $81,000 in assets in the court filing.
The designer told the Wall Street Journal that forthcoming debt restructuring will make his label more attractive to outside investors and allow him to launch a lower-priced line.
Mohapatra launched his first collection in 2009 after working for a decade for J.Mendel and was part of the first class of the CFDA Fashion Incubator in 2010.
"All of us at Bibhu LLC will continue to offer the best customer experience to our loyal clientele and supporters, while we use this brief period of reorganization to implement our new growth strategy that will ensure our brand continues to grow and flourish," said Mohapatra.