St. John Knits International will lay off 130 people in Irvine, according to a notice filed with the state.
The layoffs, according to the Employment Development Department, are effective June 26.
“We recently adjusted a significant portion of our manufacturing process, and although this change strategically situates the company to meet the future needs of our consumers, it very regrettably resulted in the elimination of some full-time and part-time positions,” the company said in a statement.
St. John has 400 employees in Irvine and 600 in Mexico, according to the Orange County Business Journal.
In recent years the company, which once touted A-list celebrity spokesmodels and splashy runway shows, has shifted to a more direct approach with customers who tend to be over the age of 40 and willing to spend $2,000 on a knit suit.
In an interview with Apparel News last summer, Tiffany Anastasakis, the company’s senior vice president of marketing and communications, said she has been organizing conversations with professional women to introduce the St. John brand.
St. John is adding to its evening wear and sportswear to broaden the brand’s appeal, Apparel News reported. The core knit suit makes up 50 percent of sales while evening and sportswear are roughly 24 percent.
The high-end knitwear company was founded by Robert and Marie Gray in 1962. Over nearly 30 years it has changed hands multiple times.
- The company was bought for $45 million by Germany-based Escada in 1989.
- Vestar Capital Partners, a private equity firm in New York, bought the company for $522 million in 1999.
- Shanghai-based investment firm Fosun International bought a 33.3 percent interest in the brand for $55 million in 2013.
The mother-daughter team of Marie and Kelly Gray launched Grayse in 2013. The luxury line focuses on leather jackets, high-end embellishments and prints. The fashion label has no connection to St. John’s Knits.