NEW YORK — Sears, Roebuck will start selling the Parallel contemporary brand beginning mid-April in an exclusive distribution deal that reflects the chain’s ongoing reengineering of its apparel business.
In disclosing the Parallel pact to WWD on Wednesday, Sears executives said the recasting of its apparel floor is gathering steam. This fall, they plan to introduce a few more exclusive labels, which they declined to identify. The essence of the strategy is to build up a stable of “affordable and on-trend” labels unique to midtier retailing.
Other key components of the strategy involve reworking the selling floors so they’re less dense with merchandise and become clearly divided into three lifestyle areas: updated, classics and relaxed. Also, since last holiday season, Sears has accelerated the flow of goods to its stores, so that floor sets change every six to eight weeks, compared with three to four per year. “We’re heavily into the cycle now,” said Gwen Manto, executive vice president and general manager of apparel, Sears, Roebuck.
About half of Sears’ apparel business is considered exclusive to the store, and apparel/accessories represents 25 to 30 percent of the volume at Sears’ 870 full-line stores around the country. For years, Sears’ apparel business has underperformed the hard goods side and has been under assault by the stronger J.C. Penney, Kohl’s, Target and traditional department stores, among other retailers.
“Our strategy is to really go to market with a much more relevant fashion offering — and do fewer things but with more authority,” said Manto. “We want great exclusive product not sold at other midtier retailers.”
“Sears is a natural fit as our new exclusive retail partner for Parallel because together we are able to make fashion more accessible,” said Max Azria, chairman and chief executive of BCBG Max Azria Group, parent company of Parallel, which is geared to appeal to women ages 18 to 35.
Key Parallel items and prices for spring include cardi sweater wraps and pleated print skirts for $44; matte jersey wrap dresses for $58; floral print tunics at $38; rib knit tanks with lace trims, $22; linen flare leg pants, $50, and ruffle trim twill jackets, priced at $72.Manto added there will be new brands for fall in the updated and relaxed apparel sections, but none in classics. Key updated labels include the A-line proprietary brand and the private label Apostrophe, as well as Parallel. Key classic brands include the Lands’ End and Covington private labels and the proprietary First Issue. Classics Elements is a key private label in the relaxed section.
This month, Sears merged with Kmart, forming Sears Holdings. It’s expected that many Kmarts will convert to Sears stores. Asked if some Sears brands could be sold at Kmart, Manto said, “We really haven’t determined how to combine the Kmart and Sears businesses. Right now, we are merchandising separately,” though she suggested that some of the strongest brands. Kmart’s Martha Stewart Everyday home collection is a likely candidate.
Retail observers will be watching closely how Parallel performs at Sears, considering it was not a success at J.C. Penney, which dropped the line last spring. According to a retail source, it didn’t sell well; speed to market was an issue, and Parallel wanted to utilize special sales associates to help sell the line, which is more of a traditional department store selling model. Also, Parallel’s prices were higher than Penney’s in general.
Asked why she believes Sears can do a better job with Parallel than Penney’s, Manto replied: “BCBG never has been as hot as it is today. Max Azria and his team have been unbelievable.” She called Sears’ Parallel products “trend-right” and noted that even before the goods arrive at the stores, brand extensions are in the works, including handbags and a fragrance for fall.
With each of its proprietary brands, Sears strives to offer head-to-toe looks, said Manto, who reports to Luis Padilla, president of merchandising and marketing for Sears Holdings. Another key member of the team is Patti Simigran, senior vice president and general merchandise manager of women’s apparel, Sears, Roebuck.
Parallel is being distributed to Sears’ top 150 stores for spring and 425 stores for fall, and will be sold on sears.com.
Manto would not divulge financial details of the Parallel deal.BCBG Max Azria Group includes BCBG Max Azria Collection, BCBGirls, BCBG Attitude, To The Max, Hervé Léger and Max Azria Atelier.
There'll be no rest for those headed to Europe for men's, as Paris just closed the gap with Milan. According to a provisional calendar released by the Chambre Syndicale, Paris Men's Week will now open a day earlier on January 16. See new highlights on the official lineup on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
BREAKING: Jonathan Saunders is leaving @DVF. The designer has resigned from his position as chief creative officer of Diane von Furstenberg, the company said in a statement on Friday. At the time of his hire, von Furstenberg said Saunders’ arrival symbolized and facilitated her stepping back from the day-to-day duties that occupy the work of a full-time creative director. The British designer joined DVF in May 2016 and was in charge of all product categories. #wwdnews
For @versace_official’s spring ad campaign, the brand emphasized the archival prints from the spring tribute collection dedicated to the late Gianni Versace. Closing out the show were five of Gianni’s favorite models: Cindy, Naomi, Carla, Helena, and Claudia. Bowing on December 18, the new campaign is yet another tribute to supermodel-dom as the images by Steven Meisel are fronted by @iamnaomicampbell, @cturlington, @gisele and more. #wwdfashion
Four-time Oscar-nominated actress Annette Bening has been waiting 20 years to play Gloria Graham in "Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool," which will be released on December 29. The movie about Graham – a Hollywood star known for her controversial relationship with a younger Englishman named Peter Turner – is based off a memoir Turned wrote. "She felt vulnerable to him, because she loved him, she really did love him. And anyone that we really truly are in love with, we re vulnerable to in a very deep way," said Bening. Read our full interview with the modern icon of an actress on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @ninebagatelles; Styled by @cristinaehrlich)
The crisp white button down: a staple that can be dressed up or down and accessorized throughout the decades. Here, on a Art Basel-goer in 2017 on the left and on the iconic Audrey Hepburn in “Roman Holiday” in 1953 on the right. #tbt #wwdfashion (📷: Andrew Morales)
Known for her work with @victoriassecret, 25-year-old model @georgiafowler is raising her profile in Hollywood. Fowler stars in @vincecamuto’s holiday campaign, which launched in partnership with “Pitch Perfect 3.” “Almost every shoot with Vince Camuto, I’ve had to face a fear…It was definitely a challenge. I’m so grateful for it, though. I’ve always wanted to be a pop star, so that was the perfect chance,” Fowler said. Head to WWD.com to read about Fowler’s experience modeling, including at the #VSFashionShow, and her relationship with Nick Jonas. #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
EXCLUSIVE: Huda Kattan just became the first beauty influencer to land a major beauty deal. Kattan's business, @hudabeauty, has received a minority investment from private equity firm TSG Consumer Partners. The brand, which industry sources say is on track to do $200 million in retail sales for 2017, will receive support on product, retail and geographic expansion through the deal. Get all the details on the deal and read @_a_collins' interview with Kattan on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdbeauty #wwdnews
Peruvian model @juanaburga_official – who is known for walking the runways of @rodarte, @viviennewestwood and @torybuch – is making the move to the big screen with drama “Los Últimos.” The film premiered in Argentina in November and arrives in the U.S. and Europe in 2018. On making the switch from modeling to acting, Burga told WWD: “It’s a completely different thing – a lot of people think it’s similar or try to connect things, especially like getting used to the camera or being looked at all the time or playing these different characrers, but film is a completely different story.” #wwdeye (📷: @jgreenery)
London’s newly opened @designmuseum will look back on the life and work of Azzedine Alaïa in a show that the designer helped to curate before he died of heart failure last month. The retrospective, which Alaïa had worked on with Mark Wilson, chief curator of the @groningermuseum, will look at the impact of his work worldwide. The show, “Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier,” will run from May 10 to October 7. Read more about the exhibit on WWD.com #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @zefashioninsider)