True Religion closing 27 stores, none in Valley

HARLINGEN — Pricy denim retailer True Religion Apparel Inc. plans to close at least 27 of its 140 stores, but none are in the Rio Grande Valley.

True Religion announced a pre-packaged Chapter 11 filing early this week in hopes of slashing $350 million from its debt load.

The retailer has stores at the Rio Grande Valley Premium Outlets location in Mercedes and at La Plaza Mall in McAllen. For now, those stores apparently will remain open.

Among the 27 store closings submitted to the bankruptcy court are Texas outlets at Northpark Center in Dallas, The Shops at La Cantera in San Antonio and at Southlake Town Square.

Teen retailers like True Religion have been especially hard-hit by sales drops in the last two or three years.

Aeropostale filed for bankruptcy in May 2016 and closed hundreds of stores. American Apparel filed for bankruptcy protection in 2015 and closed hundreds of stores as well.

Also filing for bankruptcy was Rue 21, which announced it was closing 400 of its 1,100 stores and instead would concentrate on online sales.

Like those other companies, True Religion also has been hit hard by online clothing sales by companies such as Amazon. True Religion also has been troubled by changes in fashion taste among consumers which has led many to shun denim in favor of athletic wear.

Since April, the Mercedes mall has seen retailers Rue 21 and Bebe Stores Inc. announce they would close, and Gymboree went into bankruptcy. At La Plaza Mall, Gymboree, Crazy 8 and Janie and Jack’s are in bankruptcy, while Bebe Stores announced its store there would close as well.