Today's Fashion Headlines: Thursday, November 7, 2013

J. Crew Opens New Flagship in London
Hello London! J. Crew spelled it out with big, shiny gold balloons in a front window of its first European flagship on Regent Street. This is the largest of J. Crew trio units to open in different neighborhoods across the English capital over the past few weeks.
The specialty retailer encompasses 17,000 square feet, with 11,000 square feet of selling space, totaling over two floors.  The ambiance of the flagship is simply divine, from the Art Deco staircase with custom-designed glass and iron handrails connecting the ground and first floors, to the variety of framed works hanging on the walls, including vintage drawings, photos, magazine covers, silk-screen prints and movie posters from the Fifties, Sixties and Seventies, adding to the town house feel.
The J. Crew family is very excited about the European opening. Millard Drexler the brand’s chairman and CEO says, “It feels like New York. In fact, it’s much more similar to New York than most of America is to New York. It’s a big city with lots of fashion, and it’s important for us to be here.” He added that one thing he is curious to discover is whether the “sale mentality” is as prevalent here as it is in the United States.
Drexler believes J. Crew delivers value for money, even at higher prices. The J. Crew team has re-priced every single piece of merchandise, taking into account the cost of doing business in London. Generally speaking, prices are on average about 20 percent higher than they would be in the U.S., according to the company.
Jenna Lyons, the brand’s president and executive creative director, said she’s believes what every brand always wants is a sense of loyalty, whether it be a cut they love or a salesperson they’ve struck up a relationship with. She states J. Crew will never be about the latest trend. I’d much rather our customer find a connection with the brand, and she looks forward to the London customer doing just that.
J.C. Penny Reports October Sales Increase
Despite the distress of the challenging consumer environment and government shutdown, the struggling apparel and home furnishing retailer was able to enjoy its first month of positive same-store sales since December 2011. The store numbers were coupled with a 37.6 percent increase in online sales. Comparable-store sales rose 0.9 percent last month, the company said, marking a reversal of the 4 percent decline registered in September.
J.C. Penny not only has seen positive same-store sales, but has significantly seen improved sales trends in home and men’s apparel, as well as women’s accessories. The company attributed the improvement to the restoration of inventory levels in a number of its private label brands, including St. John’s Bay and Stafford. They also stated they noticed significant sales increases with third-party brands including Levi’s, Dockers, Nike and Izod. Additionally, the “remerchandising and reconfiguration” of its home department helped them generate the largest divisional increases at the company for the month.
With financials looking hopeful, the retailer says they are fully prepared to execute aggressive plans for the holidays, including opening at 8:00 pm on Thanksgiving Day. The retailer plans to unveil some new marketing to better communicate the unique value and stylish merchandise assortment they offer. With this being said, J.C Penny expects the holiday season to be extremely competitive, but says they are ready to win!
Ralph Lauren Beats Street Consensus & Foresees Growth Ahead
Investors are elated about Ralph Lauren Corp.’s growth prospects. Although there was a slight bump in the road for their second quarter financials, third quarter and beyond are looking prosperous. Shares for the brand surged 5.5% to close Wednesday at $180.52 in Big Board trading after the company raised its full-year revenue forecast and said it expects a strong third quarter, which includes the all-important holiday selling season.
Ralph Lauren is solidifying its position as a specialty retailer as stores and direct-to-consumer continue to become a bigger component of its overall business strategy Christopher H. Peterson, executive vice president, chief administrative officer and chief financial officer says, within the next three to five years, gross margins can grow due in part to a business shift from wholesale to retail. He states that the company’s retail segment is expected to grow faster going forward as the company focuses more on growth in places like Greater China and Southeast Asia. Ralph Lauren has great prospects ahead and hopeful to be dominant in their segment.
– Keyera Simmons
 Source and Photo: WWD

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