It’s been a few weeks since we dove into retail headlines- so let’s check in on the industry we adore…
Up first is Mickey Drexler, and his exit from the CEO role at J.Crew after 14+ years with the company. He will be succeeded by James Brett, current president of West Elm, but will stay on as Chairman.
I have to be honest, this announcement weeks ago was bitter sweet. I have admired this man for decades and have a tremendous amount of respect for the role he played at both Gap and J.Crew. In addition, I applaud the fact that he took some responsibility for the brands recent missteps. In an interview (prior to the announcement) Mr. Drexler owned up to the fact that J.Crew hasn’t done enough to innovate the brand for consumers and had become a bit too elitist. He admitted that e-commerce and social media have changed the industry, and that in order for J.Crew to thrive again, lower price points and a more accessible brand image are necessary. Which I think we would all agree with, no?
So here’s to J.Crew doing just that, and Mr. Drexler being there to mentor the team as they move forward. Call me naïve, but I am always hoping for a happy ending when it comes to brands I love and J.Crew is definitely on that list.
Okay- now let’s change gears and get to Walmart (yes, again). They seem to be checking off their 2017 list of to-do’s quite rapidly. This past week it was announced that they have signed Joan Smalls to design an intimates line for their Smart & Sexy brand. The Victoria’s Secret model will be influencing both swimwear and lingerie designs, scheduled to launch in Spring 2018.
To me, this isn't just another celebrity partnership- it's Walmart finding an additional category to enhance as they move the company forward. In terms of the above, I have a feeling that their customers will love a collection designed by Smalls and will most likely head to stores to purchase it. Why? Because they are taking an existing product line, with a lower price point, and making it cooler- with a model from Victoria’s Secret (who owns the lingerie business). That wasn't an accident- it was smart.
Up next is Under Armour. The company announced that they have hired Patrik Frisk to serve as their new president and COO, in order to drive their footwear and growth strategy forward. Frisk, previously the CEO of Aldo, will be partnering with UA’s founder and CEO Kevin Plank to put a bit more pressure on competitors Nike and Adidas. Also, if you didn't get a chance to see the Sunday Today interview with Kevin Plank, you should definitely google it. His journey is pretty inspiring for any entrepreneur out there and for some reason I feel like he's just getting started.
ThredUp, an online clothing thrift store, will be opening their first brick and mortar location in San Marcos, TX next month. I share this with you because it's a strategy shift that we aren't use to. With brands filing for bankruptcy and shutting down stores, it's a bit refreshing (and exciting) to see an online retailer going the opposite direction. The company is also planning to open an additional four stores by the end of 2017.
Lastly, there are always collaborations going on within the fashion world, but my favorite this week is Banana Republic x Piece & Co. It’s a limited-edition collection, created with sustainable hand-crafted fabrics by women artisans around the globe. The goal of Piece & Co. is to help these women develop their business, provide consistent employment, and ensure a stronger future based on their talent. So while I know the pieces are a bit pricier than we are used to, the cause is incredibly worth it.
PS: You should also check out Gap x Wonder Woman and Zara Kids x Smiley.
As always, I would love to hear your opinions on the above, so please feel free to comment or message me. Here's to some retail insight, our favorite brands, and all of you having a wonderful Wednesday...