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Archive for the tag “apparel”

Are There To Many Stores In The USA? Thousands Are Closing.

The New Rules of Retail – Competing in the World’s Toughest Marketplace / Via Palgrave Macmillan / Robin Lewis and Michael Dart / ICSC calculation from Cushman & Wakefield, KSA and other sources

The New Rules of Retail – Competing in the World’s Toughest Marketplace / Via Palgrave Macmillan / Robin Lewis and Michael Dart / ICSC calculation from Cushman & Wakefield, KSA and other sources

Not the dreaded winter of retail death.  No! Arghhhhhhh!

Ok so maybe it’s not that bad but it despite the uptick in the economy and the stock market surging, there has been a recent shake up in the retail fashion world.  And the source may be…..to many stores.

Noooooo. Don’t take away my favorite mall.

America has 7.5 billion square feet of retail space.  Since 1980 we have seen an increase of 3.3 billion square feet.  That comes to 20 square feet of shopping space for every single US resident, including all those high fashion consuming illegal residents.  The next closest country by retail space is the U.K. with a whopping 3 square feet per person, followed by France and Brazil at 2 and Germany at 1.  Yet another reason to be glad we aren’t German.

Go America, an extra, unnecessary 17 square feet of shopping space per person.  Who says we aren’t world leaders.

Oh and that number only includes gross leasable space, not freestanding retailers so the number is actually way bigger.

So what is the cause to the recent spate of retail closings and bankrupcies?  Why have more then 1,000 apparel and accessory stores closed or are on their last tottering legs? What has caused Wet Seal, Delia’s, DEB Shops, C. Wonder, Gap’s Piperlime, Kate Spade Saturday, Jones New York, and Caché to all close or go bankrupt within the past two months? The answer for most of them is….. to many stores.  Yes we have to many stores.

We have a glut of retail space and too many store options.  Sure we all like having choice.  Yes we like being able to express our individual style and personality by dressing differently from each other, or in most cases dressing just like a group that we want to be indetified with but unlike other groups.  Oh you wear Lucy to the gym, I only wear Lululemon.

As wonderful as choice is, sometimes there is just to much.  That doesn’t mean it’s bad to have 27 different tank tees to choose from.  It just means the free market can’t support 27 different retailers who all want to sell something similar.  If one company can’t keep up with the latest trends and demands they may face being pushed out of the marketplace by a faster, or more popular competitor.  At the end of the day, we just can’t support 20+ square feet of retail space per person.  Ironically, as quickly as those spaces are being vacated there are other retailers just waiting to snap them up.  There seems to be no stopping the desire for expansion.  There is actually demand for more space from retailers then we currently have.

Now in some cases such as Gap’s Piperlime and Kate Spade Saturday, their parent companies want to do away with smaller scale disctractions and focus on their primary brands.  If something can’t grow fast enough with high enough margins then cut and run and focus on what you know works.  I wish I could say a $100 million business like Piperlime was a distraction and has to go.  Oh to have such problems.

So what is going to happen next.  Hold on as even more stores close down.  Perhaps even one of your favorites.  But don’t worry.  There will be a new H&M or Zara or Wallmart to take their place.  The engines of commerce will keep on rolling.

For an interesting look at the issue check out Sapna Maheshwari’s take on the issue on buzzfeed here.

 

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Today’s fail: Urban Outfitters Celebrates the Holocaust.

Urban outfitters Holocaust tapestry

While political correctness often goes overboard, there are still a handful of issues that are universally accepted and understood to be topics of great sensitivity that should be handled with a certain level of respect.  Genocide is generally one of those topics.

Once again Urban Outfitters missed the class on sensible decision making and released a tapestry with a grey and white striped pattern and a upside down pink triangle.  A fabric that looks strikingly similar to the uniforms worn by concentration camp prisoners with a badge that is clearly stylized on one that homosexual male prisoners were forced to wear to identify themselves.

While the gay community has reclaimed the upside triangle as a sign of pride the use of it in this context with striped pattern is clearly reminiscent of the atrocities of the Holocaust.  It doesn’t take a historian, gay activist or former concentration camp survivor to look at this item and instantly see this obvious imagery it is meant to provoke.  Any average person with any knowledge of what has happened in our past would be instantly struck by how familiar and inappropriate this print is.  How this product made it through Urban Outfitters development process and into the retail chain is a mystery.  It is in-explainable how in their entire operation no one noticed or mentioned the similarity of this item to concentration camp uniforms.

This isn’t Urban Outfitters first accidental step in the wrong direction.  Last fall they printed a sweatshirt with a blood splattered pattern in homage to the tragic shooting that occurred at Kent State.  Before that there is  a lengthy list of other groups that have been targeted with offensive imagery.  This seems to be Urban Outfitters way of staying in the press and developing brand awareness.  Yes controversy does get your name out there but there is a significant difference between controversy and being just plain offensive.

It doesn’t take more a small dose of common sense to know that invoking imagery of the Holocaust to either promote sales or promote controversy to improve sales is one of those instances where the uncrossable line has been crossed.   Yes comedians often poke fun at and use humor in discussing some of our societies darkest moments and actions but those are professionals in a very specific environment using humor as a means of social commentary and they have learned that even they need to tread carefully when touching upon such sensitive topics.  Most fail miserably and pay the price for it.  In the fashion industry there is no place for this level of insensitivity.

Maybe its time that Urban Outfitters customers sent a clear message to the company about what they deem acceptable.  Perhaps if every loyal Urban Outfitters customer boycotted the store for just one quarter, the drop in sales would convince their leadership that a different approach in necessary.  We’re not saying that you should never shop there again.  If its your style and fit and you love their other products then great, continue to be a customer but use your voice to tell them when they are on the wrong path and need to change.

To read another take on the topic check out Lauren Tuck’s article at Yahoo Style:  https://www.yahoo.com/style/urban-outfitters-selling-tapestry-eerily-110637515003.html

 

American Apparel marches on with a new CEO. Edgy but not as overtly sexual.

Source: American Apparel

Source: American Apparel

Anyone who has been following the apparel industry in North America (if you can even say there is enough manufacturing left to call it an industry) knows the story of American Apparel.  Slightly kooky CEO/founder builds the largest garment manufacturing operation on the continent through the savvy use of sexually charged images targeted at teens and young adults.  Wildly successful company faces all sorts of financial challenges and more then once teeters on the edge of bankruptcy.  Questionable CEO is repeatedly accused of sexual harassment and bizarre behavior until his is finally driven from the company.

It sounds like a soap opera and certainly will eventually be turned into a James Franco vehicle for him to once again channel his inner oddball.  In the meantime hudreds of millions of dollars in revenue continue to roll in and it is now the responsibility of new CEO Paula Schneider to create some sort of order out of the chaos.  Schneider recently gave her first public interview to Bloomberg and the headline that has been all over the internet for the past day, edgy but with less skin.

By Matt Townsend at Bloomberg

Paula Schneider, American Apparel Inc.’s new chief executive officer, wants the brand to be as provocative as it was under expelled founder Dov Charney. Just with less skin.

“It doesn’t have to be overtly sexual,” Schneider said in her first wide-ranging interview. “There’s a way to tell our story where it’s not offensive. It is an edgy brand. And it will continue to be an edgy brand.”

Schneider, an apparel industry veteran who has led private-equity backed companies and ran the swimwear division at Warnaco Group Inc., has been in the job only a month and is still formulating her strategy. But it’s already clear that she wants to build on the battered chain’s underlying strengths.

To read the full article go to: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-02-06/american-apparel-ceo-wants-less-skin-but-isn-t-afraid-to-be-edgy

Is menswear going to the mountains?

Men's jacket by Aether, source Aether

Men’s jacket by Aether, source Aether

Perhaps there is hope for those who can’t seem to find anything to relate to fashion wise when they scan the latest pics from the runway or pursue  the ads in the latest edition of GQ.  I know every time I pick up a fashion magazine I shake my head wondering what tiny percentage of the population is actually buying the looks I see.  Not 99% of the guys I know.

One subset of the fashion universe that has slowly been coming back are looks based on heritage/vintage styles along with more tactical and outdoors performance based looks.  The bonus to most of these styles, they hold up well to the elements and make you look like a man, not a dandy.

Rebecca May Jonson over at The Business of Fashion took a look at the topic today in A Survivalist Streak in Menswear

From triple seam sealed Gore-tex and ballistic nylon to shearling vests and stylish axes, why are men buying fashion fit for surviving the apocalypse?

Dubbed a “snowpocalypse” by sensational American media outlets, a recent winter storm in the US prompted New York City mayor Bill Blasio to declare a state of emergency, ban cars from the streets and shut down the city’s subway for the first time in history. The snow never really materialised (only 5 inches were recorded in Manhattan’s Central Park) but politicians and consumers alike responded like doomsday survivalists, battening down the hatches in preparation for apocalypse.

In fashion, amidst an uncertain climate — geopolitically and economically, as well as literally — it seems like menswear has taken on a survivalist streak too. “It’s a brave new world. We are in a different climate both politically and meteorologically,” agreed men’s fashion consultant Nick Wooster.

To read the full article go to: http://www.businessoffashion.com/2015/02/survivalist-streak-menswear.html

 

Target shows love for plus size women.

Ava & Viv by Target

Ava & Viv by Target

The average women wears a size 14.  More then half of the population is overweight.  That is a lot of potential plus sized customers.  Despite this fact, almost the entire fashion industry ignores this reality, and the $17.5  billion in annual sales plus-size women produce.  Starting mid-February Target, yes that Target, is going tackle the problem head on.  They will be launching a new 90 piece collection designed in-house specifically for today’s full figured women.

The new line, named Ava & Viv will feature basics and statement pieces in sizes 14-26.  Hats off to Target.  How this market has been so under-served for so long I have no idea.  It is one of those problems and solutions that is so obvious, so in your face that its shocking so few people try to tackle it.  It reminds me of another under-served but giant market, short men. Oh wait, someone is taking on that problem, me (www.originalshortees.com).

I’ve gone shopping with women who wear sizes that have two digits in them.  It’s a frustration process.  The options are incredibly limited, the styles and generally atrocious and unflattering and they are often designed with little thought to how plus size customers are really shaped.

Target isn’t just solving a clothing problem for today’s women.  Besides the revenue potential this line can generate, they know that today’s plus size women is also a girlfriend, wife, mother, homeowner.  If they can give them a genuine reason to come into the store their cart is not going to hit the checkout line with just a pair of pants.  Toilet paper, soap, cleaning supplies, books, beauty products, groceries.  Customers coming in to look for new clothes are going to buy more of everything Target has to offer.  And that is some pretty smart business.

Read more about it at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/barbarathau/2015/01/27/why-targets-new-plus-sized-line-could-redefine-17-5-billion-underserved-market/

The Gap drops Piperlime

piperlime logoGap logo

In 1969 Don Fisher started The Gap for a simple reason.  He could not find jeans that fit (sounds familiar).  Today The Gap consists of 6 brands, almost 3,700 stores, 150,000 employees and more than $16 billion in revenue.  Soon enough The Gap will be back down to 5 brands.

Gap announced that is will be dropping its Piperlime brand and focusing on continuing to grow its Athleta brand, a direct competitor to industry leader Lululemon, along with reinvigorating its namesake The Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy brands.  Piperlime, with only $100 million in revenues represents a tiny drop in the bucket for The Gap.  Hard to believe that a $100 brand can be considered a throw away, drop in the bucket.

This isn’t the first time The Gap has closed or sold off another brand.  Anyone remember Hemisphere or Forth & Towne?  Or that The Gap used to own Pottery Barn?

What Label is that? Will Men Buy The Same Brands Their Girlfriend Wears?

Looks from Michael Kors Autumn/Winter '14 Mens Collection | Source: Michael Kors

Looks from Michael Kors Autumn/Winter ’14 Mens Collection | Source: Michael Kors

The menswear market is growing.  Faster then women’s.  Will today’s average guy be willing to slap his girlfriends label on his shirt?  We’re betting the average guy doesn’t know who Michael Kors or Tory Burch is.  And those that do are willing to put on whatever their wife or girlfriend buys them, just so long as they don’t have to go to the mall to try it on.  The upscale men’s fashion market in the US is small.  For all the blogs and TV coverage about fashion, most men don’t care.  They want basics that make them look like they belong.  Most men don’t want anything that is going to stand out to much and the smaller percentage that do, don’t want to be to loud and overstated.  Just look good and have a dash of something that will garner a compliment.  Sure there will always be a small fashion forward market and yes, it will generate billions for the luxury houses and brands that capture it but it will still make up a small percentage of the menswear sold.  And for today’s shorter man, forget it.  The odds of any of the major fashion brands catering to us is slim to none.  Perhaps if you are extra lean and closer to the 5’7″-5’8″ mark you can squeeze into a small, otherwise you’re out of luck.

NEW YORK, United States — When Michael Kors’ 22,000-square-foot flagship opens at 520 Broadway in Soho this December, there will be a floor dedicated to accessories and fragrances, another to women’s fashion and shoes and another, entirely stocked with menswear, kicking off the multi-billion-dollar brand’s foray into the men’s market. “From there, we will begin to test free-standing men’s stores next year and believe that there may be the potential for as many as 500 men’s stores worldwide over the long term,” said Michael Kors chairman and CEO John Idol on an earnings call in August. The company projects its men’s business will generate $1 billion in revenue by 2017.

By Lauren Sherman, Dec 15, 2014 at Business of Fashion.

Read the rest at: http://www.businessoffashion.com/2014/12/womenswear-brands-make-play-mens-market.html

Men’s bottoms never looked so warm and snugly. If only your pants were made from Afghan blankets.

 

Lord von Schmitt

Lord von Schmitt

It’s hard to find words to describe this discovery.  Fortunately a picture says a thousand words and these pictures are doozies.

Lord von Schmitt

Lord von Schmitt

From boredpanda:

Crochet’s not just for scarves and sweaters anymore. Schuyler Ellers, who runs the Lord von Schmitt Etsy shop, creates dazzlingly colorful patterned crochet shorts out of recycled materials that are sure to please both the wearer and their stunned beholders (man or woman).

Ellers embraces every style out there, from form-fitting booty shorts to extravagant bell-bottom pants. Most of these fabulous pieces are made of recycled vintage crochet afghans; according to Ellers’ shop, “Afghan blankets are original pieces of folk art, hand made by artisans across America since the 1960’s and well before. With scissors and a sewing machine I transform vintage crochets into wearable sculpture!”

Read the entire post and see additional looks at: http://www.boredpanda.com/crochet-shorts-schuyler-ellers-lord-von-schmitt/

Lord von Schmitt

Lord von Schmitt

Lord von Schmitt

Lord von Schmitt

Can Nike and Adidas be both performance and fashion based?

 

(L) Karlie Kloss modelling Pedro Lourenço for Nike, (R) Mary Katrantzou x Adidas | Source: Nike, Adidas

(L) Karlie Kloss modelling Pedro Lourenço for Nike, (R) Mary Katrantzou x Adidas | Source: Nike, Adidas

More and more Nike and Adidas seem to be focusing on the fashion elements of their businesses.  While many of their products clearly are designed with a blend of performance and style, it becomes more and more obvious that quite a few of their products are designed with the thought that they will never see a drop of sweat.  The collaborations with stars from the athletic, music and fashion industries leave little doubt that form rules over function.

Does this reduce the consumers desire to brand themselves with the swoosh or three stripes because of a reducing level of performance credibility or drive consumption as we seek the coolest, newest look.  Clearly the every increasing billions that these global giants are raking in suggests the latter.

Robin Mellery-Pratt at Business of Fashion takes a closer look…

On Monday, Nike launched a new capsule collection, dubbed NikeLab x JFS, with Berlin-based Acronym designer Johanna F. Schneider. On Thursday evening, at Paris men’s fashion week, Adidas is set to unveil a new collaboration with Junichi Abe’s Kolor. Together, the launches are the latest in a crescendo of fashion-related activities by the world’s top sportswear brands, whose core identities have long been more squarely rooted in athletic performance.

Traditionally aligned with athletes, Nike recently began working with fashion model Karlie Kloss on a major women’s marketing campaign. Though Kloss is a former ballet dancer who practices yoga, the company has never before partnered with a fashion model on this kind of scale. What’s more, in October, Nike staged a high-profile fashion show in New York as part of its “Women’s Innovation Summit” — attended by scores of fashion editors and featuring Kloss and a small army of models — to unveil its collaboration with Brazilian designer Pedro Lourenço.

Read the rest at: http://www.businessoffashion.com/2015/01/nike-adidas-sportswear-fashion.html

Can Abercrombie & Fitch come back from the dead?

abercrombie-spring 2015

abercrombie-spring 2015

For years they made their stores as uncomfortable for adults as possible.  Excluded anyone who wasn’t tall, thin and desirable.  They weren’t ashamed about it and made millions of dollars.  Then things went bad.  Really bad.  Can Abercrombie & Fitch re-invent themselves and return to profitability?  If they do one thing is for sure, they won’t care about short guys.

Erika Adams at Racked.com takes a closer look at the challenges A&F faces:

“Effortless, all-American style.” Abercrombie & Fitch works hard to embed that slogan into everything it produces these days, which now includes categories like neoprene crop tops and lace-trimmed midi dresses—quite a different look from denim cut-off shorts, a flannel and flip-flops. But it wasn’t always that effortless: Just a year ago, Abercrombie aimed for the “essence of privilege and casual luxury,” a slogan that was more in line with the cooler-than-you brand high-schoolers in the early aughts pictured Abercombie to be.

Years ago, Abercrombie’s biggest media concern was paying off the Situation so that he would stop wearing its heavily logo-ed graphic tees. Now, in an effort to reposition itself as a more inclusive brand, every move is strategic. The product team hasscaled back logos; there are press previews for new product lines; and the store’s notoriously semi-nude male models put on shirts. Abercrombie no longer sees the color black as taboo, and stores have started stocking clothing above a size 10. The most striking change, however, was an announcement made last month that CEO Michael Jeffries was leaving the company. Bit by bit it might not mean much—plus-size options have only been around for a year, and those male models have only been clothed since the summer—but combined and coupled with the retirement of Jeffries, the changes signify a new phase of the brand, one where Abercrombie exerts a ton of effort in an attempt to find its footing in a heavily competitive and highly digital retail environment.

Read the rest at: http://racked.com/archives/2015/01/13/tracking-abercrombies-plan-to-get-cool-again.php

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