NEW YORK -- Speedo specialty shops are swimming in the fast lane.
The first one opened in Los Angeles in November 1992, and the growing network of activewear stores is projecting sales of between $80 million and $100 million in 1995, according to Linda J. Wachner, chairman and chief executive officer of Authentic Fitness Corp., which owns the Speedo stores.
"We are very serious about Speedo shops, and we have very aggressive plans," said Wachner.
So far, there are 15 Speedo shops in the U.S., and 10 more are scheduled to open by Labor Day. By year's end, Wachner plans to have a total of 50, and she said she expects to open 50 more in 1995, totaling 100 shops.
The first Speedo unit in Chicago was opened last week, and another opened last Wednesday in Bridgehampton Commons, N.Y., with a grand opening planned for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend.
A lease has just been signed for a second New York unit to be opened in August at the northeast corner of 58th Street and Lexington Avenue. Other locations targeted for summer openings are Baltimore; Los Angeles; Pasadena, Calif.; San Francisco; Oak Brook, Ill.; Miami; Seattle; Philadelphia, and Vancouver, British Columbia.
A unit in St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands is due to open at the end of October.
Wachner noted that a key part of Speedo's retail strategy is full-price selling.
"People don't need to buy on sale," said Wachner. "If a woman can get merchandise in her size, and get in and out of a store quickly, that's what I call a bargain."
Beth Ravit, who has been president of the Authentic Fitness retail division since 1992, noted, "We don't run constant sales, just semiannual sales in July and February. " It's old-time retailing. "We've also tried to make the shopping experience user-friendly for Speedo customers," said Ravit, noting that anti-shoplifting tags on merchandise are small, not bulky. She added that fitting rooms feature two mirrors, have lots of light and a gym bench.
Sales per square foot range from $400 at Speedo shops in malls to $1,000 at the 1,050-square-foot-flagship here at 90 Park Ave., she said. Mall units are typically larger and range in size between 1,200 and 1,500 square feet.The average cost of creating a Speedo shop and its trademark decor -- a ceiling that's done in real swimming pool tile with mannequins in swimming mode -- is around $200,000 per unit, said Ravit.
Regarding merchandising, Ravit commented, "When we first designed the women's line in 1991, we didn't want to get into the commodity business. We took a look at how everybody else was pricing basic garments, and we targeted the same prices of department store aerobicwear. As we set up stores, we set up our core basic program at opening prices."
Retail prices at Speedo shops for women's solid stretch apparel start at $18 for bra tops and go to $50 for catsuits. Fashion looks retail from $24 for a printed bra top to $46 for a printed unitard. Women's sports jackets are $48 to $80. Swimwear sells from $45 for a basic tank suit of Antron nylon and Lycra, to $79 for a high-neck maillot of metallic polyester and polyurethane. That style is called S2000 and was introduced during the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona.
Ravit further noted that stretch apparel for boys and girls is a fast-growing segment of Speedo's retail business. She said items such as bike shorts and T-shirts for children were successfully tested at the largest unit -- a 2,200-square-foot unit in Costa Mesa, Calif. The children's program has now been expanded to other units.
Children's sizes are 4 to 6X for girls, and 4 to 7 for boys. Retail prices start at $12 for T-shirts and go to $15 for bike shorts.
Wachner noted that the ad budget will grow with the pace of business at Authentic Fitness, which holds the license for the Speedo name in North America. The annual corporate ad budget currently is between $10 million and $15 million, she said.
Authentic Fitness also markets and manufactures White Stag activewear and swimwear under the Catalina, Cole of California, Anne Cole and the licensed Oscar de la Renta labels. Its sales in 1993 reached $132.9 million, with the Speedo business accounting for $103.3 million.
“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