NEW YORK — Ugg it turning its focus to the middle-school customer.
The company is hoping to build off the momentum of a successful 2013 fiscal year, where brand sales increased 9.7 percent, with its first stand-alone secondary brand. Named I Heart Ugg, the new label is aimed at the female tween consumer, defined as girls between the age of nine and 13. “We wanted to give [this customer] an exclusive product,” said president Connie Rishwain. “It will definitely look different than the Ugg line, but it will have the DNA. This gives her her own identity.”
The initial I Heart Ugg collection for fall will include boots, moccasins and slippers done in an array of colors and prints. Distinct design elements include an I Heart Ugg logo heel plate, a red heart rivet, unique stitching and, on select boots, a cell phone pocket. Prices will be lower than the main line, with opening price points at $79.95, with the most expensive boot at about $160.
The brand will also include loungewear, accessories and handbag offerings. “It’s a great way to get that customer for life,” said Rishwain. “They can enter through I Heart Ugg, and once they outgrow it, they can go to the main line. We wanted to give [this customer] an exclusive product. The market potential is huge.” Rishwain cited the U.S. tween market to be about $200 billion, with $43 billion of that total being exclusive purchases versus those bought by parents, etc. The three most popular categories for tween spending, according to Rishwain, are video games, apparel and shoes.
Ugg aims to tap into a larger international consumer base through the brand as well. “We are primarily a domestic brand, but international is the fastest-growing segment,” said Rishwain. “Japan and China are our fastest-growing [markets].…We think the product might skew older in Asia, the way that Hello Kitty skews to an older consumer there than it does here. So, it might be 17- to 25-year-old there.” To ensure the new line reaches tweens through all channels, Ugg will embark on an expansive marketing plan that includes a stand-alone site, iheartugg.com, and a digital and print ad campaign.
I Heart Ugg will also get the retail treatment with two dedicated brick-and-mortar locations in Waikiki, Hawaii, and San Francisco. Both stores are slated to open in September. “Our current store in Waikiki is one of our top-volume stores,” explained Rishwain. “The location gives an amazing tourist business from both Asia and the U.S., and we’ll be able to get a really good read on the brand. In San Francisco, our store now is one block away from Union Square. Then, a location popped up in Center City that was perfect. The opportunity was there, so we took it.”
Locations in New York and Las Vegas are being scouted for a 2015 opening. In addition to the dedicated stores, I Heart Ugg will be available at Nordstrom, Dillard’s, Zappos.com and select Ugg stores beginning July 14.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast