Hello-Hello, and welcome to a Tuesday.
Today we have a number of headlines we thought you might enjoy, all related to companies trying to stay alive in a very tough retail climate. We begin with an update an Coach. Some may recall the company has been trying to change direction (more in this post), moving away from bags that look like this…
To bags that look more like this.
Less logo presence and more heritage craftsmanship have been part of the effort to bring back some of the core customers lost because of the overtly promotional products.
The “disappointing” results were pulled down by the company’s women’s handbag business in North America…
In addition to re-positioning the brand in terms of what the products look like, Coach also plans to boost its offerings in several categories, including clothing, shoes, jewelry and watches. Below, a look at some of this spring’s small leather goods.
Coach also will expand its footwear offerings.
In looking at the website one sees a mix of items.
These are from this spring’s line.
The outerwear has appeal.
The company is even going to change its window displays, upping the amount of clothing and other accessories in the displays.
When looking at accessories one sees some darling pieces.
Those not troubled by logophobia will still find plenty of pieces, yet they seem to occupy a much smaller percentage of the overall merchandise mix.
However, if shoppers are looking for lower prices on the new Coach styles they will be disappointed. The company hopes to grow its collection of items that sell for more than $300. Back to the WWD story.
In the most recent quarter, Coach said it’s making headway with bags priced over $400.
“It validates our belief that there’s a larger opportunity at higher price points,” the ceo added.
Instrumental to Coach’s transformation is a curated capsule collection that will flow into stores on a quarterly basis and inform the fashion direction of the brand’s collection. The collection of looks will encompass handbags that range from $500 to $800, and comparably priced footwear and apparel.
I’m not sure how many customers will want to purchase Coach items in that price range. $500 handbags are a big ask these days, especially for a brand that has lost some of its luster. The last time we wrote about Coach trying to re-establish itself the comments (and emails) were mixed. Some customers have been driven away by the volume of merchandise covered with logos, others by the proliferation of Coach Outlet stores, destroying the aura that a Coach bag was something “special”.
We will have to watch and see how things go. It would be splendid if Coach could return to its glory days. I’m just not convinced that is possible, especially in this economic climate.
Another storied company making an uphill climb is on our hit parade, JC Penney, or ‘JCP’, as the company is branding itself. Many are familiar with Penney’s continued efforts at reinvention, especially the concurrent schizophrenia in its pricing policies.
- First it was “no more sales,” they were replaced with “Every Day pricing” that was accompanied by “Monthly Sale” merchandise and “Clearance” products, marked down items sold at clearance prices on the first and third Friday of each month. (That’s where the color-coded signs came in, to help shoppers keep track of what was priced how.) One needed a flow chart to keep track of it all, let alone purchase things.
- Customers had a very tough time keeping track (or simply stopped trying) so there was the big marketing campaign with Ellen.
- Then last August year the folks in charge decided they would drop the month-long specials and put more merchandise on clearance.
Well, here is the latest as of last night, from AP via USA Today.
NEW YORK (AP) — J.C. Penney is bringing back sales.
The struggling department store chain this week will begin adding back some of the hundreds of sales it ditched last year in hopes of luring shoppers who were turned off when the discounts disappeared.
Part of the store’s strategy is opening mini- boutiques within existing stores to showcase certain brands only Penney’s offers, like Liz Claiborne, Mango, or their ‘Levi’s Denim Bars.’
Now the company will change signage and/or price tags on products to start showing a “MSRP” (manufacturer’s suggested retail price) and Penney’s “everyday” price. Back to the AP story:
To promote the strategy, Penney on Wednesday will begin airing TV, print and digital ads. One TV ad compares a $9 polo shirt under its store brand Arizona with $19 “elsewhere.” ”Two polos, same color, same vibrant, same details, same swing, same swagger, different prices,” the ad says.
Here’s a sample of the new marketing materials.
Yours truly is a huge fan of the man in charge of all this, Ron Johnson, he was the driving force behind Apple’s successful retail stores. He is bringing in some remarkably successful designers and brands, including Martha Stewart, Lulu Guinness, Sephora, and as of this week, Nanette Lepore’s new line for Juniors (shown below), L’Amour. (The new collection isn’t supposed to be available until Thursday, but it is online now.)
I hope the company can be saved, it has been a great American retail institution. But at this point it is tough to see it overcoming both its internal challenges and decisions, as well as the economic situation.
Our final reinvention tidbit is about the founders of St. John Knits. First, a quick glance at some of the spring 2013 styles, St. John itself has been through an overhaul.
Some readers may remember that at one time Kelly Gray, daughter of St. John’s founder, was the face of the company in its advertising.
When sales started to decline she was replaced by others in the ads, like Kate Winslet and Angelina Jolie. Neither represented the brand’s target customer well, in either age or personal style.
Ultimately Marie Gray, the founder, and Kelly left the company. Now they are launching a new line of clothing called Grayse.
The first collection is due out shortly, many pieces are already available at Neiman Marcus, Saks will also carry the line. The collection can also be viewed at the new Grayse website.
The lines are classic and the palette elegant, probably not the sort of thing your trusty scribe will be adding to the wardrobe. But it is nice to see Marie and Kelly Gray launching a new label.
Do let us know your thoughts on any and all of these brands!