Preppy Glamour, More Bad News at Talbots

Hello-Hello, we are running amok here at The Prepatorium today, it seems there a bajillion (is that more than a Gazillion?) little tidbits with a preppish slant, so we’ll jump right in and share a few.

The first is about one of our very favorite companies, Kate Spade.  The brand has just launched its first store in London, here is how The Telegraph describes the company:

“Lady-like American brand, ‘kate spade new york’, beloved of Upper East Side ladies and Jackie O enthusiasts hits the UK with two shops in London.

As some readers may be aware, Kate Spade’s design director, Deborah Lloyd, is British.  As always, there is a delightful graphic about the opening on the company’s website.

Kate Spade

More from The Telegraph’s story.

The British consumer can’t get enough, it seems, of the grown-up preppy glamour that dominates the middle market on the American high street. Banana Republic, J Crew, Banana Republic and Tory Burch – all recent transplants to the UK from New York – have a certain aesthetic: classics with a twist, grown-up and as Lloyd says, “lady-like”.

Below we see Ms. Lloyd outside the new store in Chelsea.

Via Vogue UK

The new store is just off Sloane Square, a perfect locale for this brand. You know how much we enjoy hearing perceptions on prep style from places outside the US, this is Elle UK’s take on the brand.

“The label known for its fresh-faced, retro-preppy clothes and classic handbags started 18 years ago as a handbag line. Its bright, optimistic vision of ladylike dressing has drawn the fancy of Zooey Deschanel and Emma Roberts.”

And here is how InStyle UK’s describes the company.

Kate Spade is renowned for its ladylike handbags, vintage-style accessories and quirky but sophisticated stationery.

Kate Spade’s other London store is in Covent Garden.


Next, more tough news for Talbots. Women’s Wear Daily reports today that business has not improved and a key executive is gone.

Trudy Sullivan, president and chief executive officer of The Talbots Inc., today ousted the company’s chief creative officer, Michael Smaldone, and blamed “high levels of promotional and markdown activity” for second-quarter losses of $37.3 million.

As anyone shopping online or in-store knows, there has been a significant amount of merchandise marked down. Among the sale merchandise one finds things like the Luxe Sparkle Sequin Tank and the Keyhole Sleeve top.

Call us crazy, but both items are well off the mark for both existing Talbots shoppers as well as the target demographic the company is trying to lure into stores.

More on the situation from Reuters.

Talbots said it plans to close about a fifth of its stores, bring in new merchandising and marketing people and rework merchandise to get customers back to its stores.

Ouch.  The Reuters story talks about closures in depth.

The company plans to close about 110 stores, including 15 to 20 consolidations, through fiscal 2013. Of this about 83 stores are expected to be closed in fiscal 2011.

As always, we hope they can dig out and return to profitability.


We have something of an update to yesterday’s post about a leading retailer’s merchandise being sold on a flash sale site.  In the post we cited Brooks Brothers as an example of companies who use such sites not only to unload excess merchandise, but to get more exposure for the brand.

Lo and behold, look what I clipped from my Rue La La email last night.

Rue La La

Brooks Boys’ and Girls’ merchandise is available as part of Rue La La’s Little Rue launch, the site’s offerings for children; previously only adult apparel and accessories were carried.

Rue La La

The sale runs through tomorrow and has merchandise for both boys and girls.

Rue La La

There still seems to be a sizable amount of merchandise available, including today’s Pretty in Pink, the Pink Corduroy Down Vest is $49.90 and the Pleated Skirt is $25.90.

Brooks Brothers/Rue La La

As always, if in need of an “invite,” just click here.

With that, goodbye until next time!


Filed under preppy, Preppy clothing & brands, Preppy Fashion, Pretty in Pink

15 responses to “Preppy Glamour, More Bad News at Talbots

  1. Sad to read this about Talbot’s. Hope they can turn things around for the better. Talbot’s is a fave of Mama and me both!

  2. Oh I was just thinking about several of these companies today!! I was just out this morning in my local prepatorium outpost buying new Hunters and noticed that they had quite a few cute Kate Spade things. Too bad about Talbots – I thought they were on the right track and the November preview I attended actually looked quite promising. And how adorable is that little pink Brooks Brothers outfit!

  3. What on earth was Talbot’s thinking with those two shirts? Eek and egads… That said I thought they had revamped their line and image tremendously and loved Julianne Moore as the new face behind the company. I saw Talbot’s latest image as the “old JCrew” before it became too… je ne sais quoi… but not what JCrew was 20 years ago. I do hope that Talbot’s can emerge from this and not end up like Pappagallo.. Anyone out there remember Pappagallo???!!!

  4. Sad news about Talbot’s but clearly he was missing the mark. I can think of a half a dozen people smack dab in the middle of the demographic who could a better job.

  5. Preppy 101

    Talbots has lost its way for sure. That red top is horrendous in my opinion. I mean is this Xanadu starring Olivia Newton John? ;-). hehe. Great post Miss Princess! XOXO

  6. I was honestly never much of a Talbots follower, because the stores were so hard to find, I think if they step back, and regroup, I’m really looking forward to see the new Talbots.

  7. Talbots needs to go back to classics and quit trying to be J Crew. And I DO remember Pappagallo, as well as the late lamented Carroll Reed.

  8. Talbot’s need to go back to the classics. Remember and miss Pappagallo and Carroll Reed. I may or may not have a few pieces of Carroll Reed in my closet. I can’t seem to part with a few pieces.

  9. Talbot’s has gone from preppy classics to way to trendy if you ask me. They need to get back to their original style and then I’ll shop there again. Loved Little Rue.

  10. You know, I loved the look of last fall’s Talbots catalog, but when I went in to try the clothes, I was not impressed with quality or cut. Cheap and matronly, I thought. Not a winning combo.
    So I am not at all surprised that they are doing poorly.

  11. It appears that Tablots is way off base with their core customer. When I think of Talbots I think of knee length plaid skirts, simple twin sets, and such, not the looks above! Some feel J Crew and Gap both alienated their customer too by going too “junior”. They should be careful they have carved a niche and sometimes when you venture too off track, you are too far to come back to your roots and that can spell disaster not always but often.
    Thats one thing that Brooks Brothers has done and done well..stayed true to who they are!

  12. Little Red

    Too bad for Talbot’s but I don’t even bother going into their store or kook at their website anymore. Both the quality and styling of their merchandise has gone down hill. IMO, they only really needed to update the shape/fit of their merchandise it and not get rid of the linen/plaid/velvet/etc aesthetic.

  13. Interesting to read the UK media take on our “middle market” brands. I’m not sure they hit the mark with the KS analysis, but I do love the ads I’ve seen surrounding that London launch.

    You could knock me over with a sequined tank top that the above photos are from Talbots – really?!? Clearly someone needs to get in there & right the ship back in the direction of the classics Talbots used to make. I liked the idea of their moving in a slightly less matronly direction, but they’ve clearly overcorrected.

    Thank you for the Rue La La / BB tip – must pop over & see if there’s any of that argyle left for Master P.

  14. Jen

    I have to say I’m not surprised about Talbots. Although, it is disappointing. I think overall they do a good job but they have been missing the mark quite a bit over the past few years. I always judge a shop by how easily I can find pants that fit. That whole low rise, skinny fit thing does not work for the bulk of their demographic.

  15. Anonymous

    Talbots lost me as a customer years ago. They closed out my charge account as well, since it’s been way too long that I purchased anything. They got way too trendy, the quality’s gone down, and their customer service has deteriorated. This news is no surprise to me; frankly, I’m amazed they didn’t go out of business by now. If they went back to selling what they used to, though they won’t, they’d bring back a lot of customers.

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