“The image of Guess has been always very consistent, since 1983,” said Paul Marciano, chief executive officer and creative director of the denim and contemporary label, as he looked through past campaigns at the label’s London showroom Wednesday. Marciano said Guess’ early denim designs are still relevant today. “If you look at the first Guess image of denim and you look at what’s the bestseller in Europe today, it’s all the tight cigarette jeans….It always just goes full circle.”
Denim makes up a major part of the new London store, with two walls painted in the company’s signature red displaying rows of women’s and men’s jeans in washes from deep blue to a black jean in an acid wash.
“Because of [Guess’] expansion as a lifestyle brand, I didn’t want one day to forget our roots, where we come from and why we’re here,” said Marciano. “It’s the denim that made Guess alive and in business.”
According to Marciano, between 2007 and 2009, Guess Inc.’s denim business has grown by 17 percent. To commemorate the store’s launch, the company has designed a limited edition version of the Beverly jean — which echoes its original Marilyn jean — without ankle zippers that’s exclusive to the Regent Street store.
The store also carries Guess’ contemporary collections, accessories, footwear and jewelry lines, alongside its higher end Guess by Marciano ready-to-wear and accessories lines. Prices at the store range from 19 pounds, or $31, for a tank top to 1,200 pounds, or $1,970, for a Gc watch, Guess’ higher-end watch line.
The space is designed with gray tiled floors, brushed steel fittings and mirrored units to house accessories, and its spring campaign images adorn the walls, alongside images of the brand’s early ads that feature models such as Claudia Schiffer and Eva Herzigova.
Since the store’s soft opening three weeks ago, sales have been “a little bit above our plan,” said Marciano, adding he expects the store to achieve sales of between $7 million and $10 million in its first year.
“The [Regent Street location] just happened by opportunity,” said Marciano. “Such a location, over 600 square meters, was an unusual opportunity, and we could not let [it] pass by…it will definitely perform by its sheer exposure and traffic.”
The United Kingdom represents between 8 and 10 percent of Guess’ overall sales, but the label plans to raise that figure by opening between 20 and 30 stores in the country over the next year. As reported, Guess’ European sales rose 20.6 percent to $210.2 million for the three months ended Aug. 1. Marciano attributed some of the label’s success in Europe, where Guess’ business is split evenly between its accessories and rtw lines, to improving consumer sentiment in the region. He hopes Guess will achieve sales of $1 billion in Europe in the next two years.
“I think that slowly the consumer is coming back, getting back some self-confidence, [but] more in Europe than the U.S.,” said Marciano, who is planning to open around 100 stores in Europe over the next year. “The U.S. is still very scared of the debts they had, but also creating something that they’re not used to, which is savings.…I think that is a big difference between the two worlds of the U.S. and Europe.”
The European market has also been seeded with the company’s advertising campaigns.
“I started to advertise in Europe for almost 10 years before we’d ever sold a piece of fashion [there], between 1985 and 1995,” said Marciano.
He believes the label is well-positioned for the current economic environment and with how the company has developed its image over the years.
“People are not looking for a jeans company —there are so many jeans companies already — but a lifestyle company,” said Marciano. “We’re not in the high end, but we’re not moderate. We’re right in the middle. By luck, by accident, we’re in the right place right now.”
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