Pacific Sunwear of California Inc. is trying to get women who stopped shopping at the retailer when they were teenagers to return to its stores and is betting Kendall and Kylie Jenner’s namesake clothing brand might do the trick.
“We see them entering the sweet spot of our target customer, and we look at building a brand with them, not just creating a moment,” said Gary Schoenfeld, president and chief executive officer of Anaheim, Calif.-based PacSun. “Importantly, at a younger age than others, they have been able to really establish their own credibility as influencers on fashion. I have nieces who are 22 and 21 and a daughter who is a senior in high school, and all three of them keep telling me about their Instagrams and their tweets and seeing them in magazines and on the E network. Their credibility absolutely aligns with our target customer base.”
This story first appeared in the February 7, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Kendall, 17, and Kylie, 15, who entered the public consciousness at 10 and 9 years old, respectively, on the reality show “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” themselves reconnected with PacSun through teaming with the retailer and licensee Majestic Inc. on the Kendall and Kylie brand, which is launching with a 26-piece spring collection on Friday at PacSun’s 644 stores. Priced from $24.50 to $79.50, pieces in the collection include chambray button-downs, chiffon tops, high-waisted shorts, denim, graphic T-shirts, dresses, jackets, bandeaus and scarves.
Kendall and Kylie share fashion aspirations — the former leaning to the modeling side of the business and the latter to design — and became interested in doing an apparel line while watching their older sisters Kim, Kourtney and Khloé Kardashian work on the Kardashian Kollection for Sears. When Majestic and PacSun approached Kendall and Kylie about eight months ago to start a brand, they said they jumped at the opportunity. PacSun has a “California vibe, and we are from California,” said Kendall. “We wanted to go with something a little more California fun, summery…for our first line and wanted to be able to build from there.”
Although the Jenner sisters are often paired together, they stressed they aren’t the same in every regard. Fit was critical to Kendall during the process of developing Kylie and Kendall, and Kylie was opinionated about perfecting the colors, fabrics and stitching. Kylie is comfortable at public events, and Kendall is sometimes extremely nervous. “I always tend to think of the worst that could happen, so that’s what freaks me out being around a lot of people,” said Kendall. “I feel I have so much to live up to or impress people. I don’t like that pressure of feeling like people can judge me.”
Schoenfeld, who said PacSun plans to expand Kendall and Kylie over the next two to four years, indicated their distinct influences on the brand would be fleshed out further in future seasons. Kendall and Kylie seem ready to express their individual personalities. “It’s fun to be with your sister, but, at the same time, we don’t always want to be grouped as Kendall and Kylie at all times. We are growing up. I’m 17. I’m going to be 18 soon. I’m not a baby anymore,” said Kendall.
Before the Kendall and Kylie brand was unveiled, PacSun’s women’s business was gaining ground. Schoenfeld explained women’s, which accounts for 40 to 45 percent of PacSun’s total sales, has been bolstered by focusing on 17- to 24-year-olds rather than younger girls, keeping up with fashion trends and tying its messaging to the overall PacSun identity steeped in the California lifestyle. “We’ve had positive comps in our women’s business coupled with improvements in margins, and we think we are starting to get back into the competitive set of retailers for college-age girls and girls even into their early 20s,” he said. “They are starting to rethink PacSun.”