The New York Times reports that a bidding war for bankrupt Barneys New York isn't just about money - it actually reflects divergent perspectives on what the future of retail will look like.

One of the bidders is Authentic Brands Group, which owns more than 50 brands including Nine West, Nautica and Hickey Freeman, which "made a formal $264 million offer for Barneys that was accepted by the store’s lenders." According to the story, "A.B.G. has said it would try to keep Barneys stores open, especially the Madison Avenue flagship, it is prepared to close all seven of them if better rental agreements cannot be reached. It has already lined up the Great American Group to run liquidation sales. No mention was made in its offer of what would happen to current employees." Digital also is said to be at the core of this group's approach.

(Note: There were reports this morning that A.B.G.'s "stalking horse bid," which sets the terms for competitive bids, actually will result in all of Barney's stores being shuttered.)

The A.B.G. bid prompted another group, described as "a consortium of New York investors led by Sam Ben-Avraham, the co-founder of the streetwear brand Kith and owner of a group of trade shows," to prepare a competitive bid; its plans, according to the Times are to "keep at least two of the remaining seven Barneys stores open, including the Madison Avenue flagship with its nine-floor footprint. It would retain at least some of the current management."

The Times story suggests that these two groups seem to have fundamentally different views of what retailing is going to look like in the future. One believes in "the abstract values of brand names rather than in-person shopping experiences," while the other seems more focused on a more traditional approach to retailing.

KC's View: The A.B.G. deconstructionist approach isn't limited to retail. The Times points out that it recently bought the intellectual property associated with Sports Illustrated for $110 million and plans to use these assets for marketing purposes; it sold the magazine to a digital company, which then imposed massive layoffs on the once-distinguished media property.

I'm honestly less interested in the bidding process - there almost certainly will be others getting involved - than I am in the divergence of perspectives. While I'd like to think that the consortium, which has a greater focus on the legacy stores, has a shot, I tend to think that the A.B.G. approach probably is more workable and maybe even inevitable.

Everything else, in this sector at least, may just be a way station on the way to deconstructed retail … in the same way that, much as it pains me to say so, the traditional Sports Illustrated model probably was doomed to being dismantled.