SEATTLE — Contemporary fashion is fueling the men’s business at Nordstrom.
In an interview following the firm’s annual meeting here last week, David Witman, executive vice-president of men’s wear, said: “Our contemporary fashion business has been strong and continues to be strong.”
Additionally, the downturn in denim sales seen elsewhere hasn’t hit Nordstrom, Witman said, citing demand for such labels as Stitch’s, Rag & Bone and Rock & Republic. The sport shirt business, too, “has been very, very good,” he noted, citing bold stitching and trimming designs by Robert Graham as hot sellers.
At the meeting, Nordstrom executives told shareholders that they’re casting a wide net to expand.
“We are in a very strong niche right now,” said Blake Nordstrom, president of the 98-store fashion specialty chain, in brief post-meeting comments in the conference room of its downtown flagship.
Earlier, before an audience of about 200 shareholders, Nordstrom cited various financial milestones reached last year, including sales, gross profit, stock price and earnings before taxes. He also took note of Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s pecking orders for retailers in terms of credit ratings. “Only Wal-Mart and Target are ahead of us,” said Nordstrom.
The company plans to add at least 26 new stores in the next five years, and executives said more store openings could be added. Existing stores are also being aggressively remodeled with $100 million targeted each year to redo seven stores, Nordstrom said.
Regarding online sales, Nordstrom said he expects business on the store’s Internet site to double in size to $1 billion in the next few years. To that end, this year the company is doubling the size of its online and catalog distribution center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to 600,000 square feet.
Earlier this month the publicly held retailer, which has had Nordstrom family members at its helm since 1901, reported first-quarter revenues of $1.96 billion, up 9.3 percent from the same quarter in 2006.
Total sales last year were up 10.8 percent to a record $8.6 billion. Last year, same-store sales posted a year-over-year gain of 7.5 percent for the fifth consecutive annual increase. For 2007, same-store sales are expected to increase 3 percent to 4 percent, a company spokesman said.
While retail basics such as tight management of inventory and improved technology are boosting the bottom line, Nordstrom cited customer demand for more and diverse fashions as key to the flourishing business. Nordstrom said the company has been able to take advantage of the demand for fashion created by the consolidation of competitors, among other changes in the industry.
Not affecting sales, Nordstrom said, is the spike in gasoline prices or other increases in the cost of living. “If we were a basic, commodity” business, things would be different, he said.
Overall, Nordstrom has focused more and more on a fashion-label driven business, with the amount of private-label apparel amounting to just 13 percent, well below the industry norm.
London-based Burberry is one of Nordstrom’s fashion standouts. For Burberry, Nordstrom is its largest U.S. retail customer, said Angela Ahrendts, Burberry CEO. She and U.S. Burberry president Eugenia Ulasewicz attended the shareholder meeting, where they accepted Nordstrom’s Partner in Excellence Award. The other recipient was the Urban Outfitters’ Free People division.
“I was already a huge Nordstrom fan,” said Ahrendts, who after joining Burberry last year launched a Nordstrom-Burberry strategy. Last year, Burberry business at Nordstrom increased 57 percent, said Pete Nordstrom, head of merchandising.
“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