By  on May 29, 2013

There’s nothing persnickety about Boston Proper despite what the name suggests, and that’s precisely the message behind the company’s brick-and-mortar debut.

Boston Proper launched its first two boutiques, in Florida, in Coconut Point on March 21 and Boca Raton on April 19, after 25 years as a direct-to-consumer business. “We are in the test and learn mode right now,” said David F. Dyer, president and chief executive officer of Chico’s FAS Inc., which purchased the $124 million Boston Proper in 2011 for $205 million. (For more on Chico’s earnings, see story below.)

Two more Boston Proper stores will open this year, in Sarasota and Naples, Fla., and 15 to 20 units are on the drawing board for 2014. Data from Boston Proper’s catalogue and online businesses will guide in selecting locations, which preliminarily seem concentrated in Florida and possibly Texas. “Over the next six or seven years you will see at least 300 stores,” Dyer said. “This could be as big as White House|Black Market or Chico’s in terms of stores.”

“We feel we’re fashion’s best kept secret,” added Sheryl Clark, the president of Boston Proper, addressing the apparent disconnect between the image and the name. “We’re obviously not from Boston. We’re based in Boca Raton. Internally, we joke around we are not proper. Our clothes are sophisticated and sexy but age and fit-appropriate for the woman 35 to 55 who is very confident. She wants to go out and be noticed. It couldn’t be further away from Talbots.”

It’s actually closer to Victoria’s Secret in look and attitude, or as one insider put it, “It’s Cougarville.” Note this season’s crochet bandinis, strapless maxis with thigh-high slits, cowboy sun hats and fitted floral cotton spandex jeans projecting a Beverly Hills or Hamptons chic. The collection is casual but not subtle, and geared for “fearlessly feminine” women, as Clark said.


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