Spurred by the launch of its e-com-merce, Lee Jeans marked a first in its 120-year history last month with the opening of a branded store.
The iconic denim label, owned by VF Corp. and based in Merriam, Kan., launched a 3,600-square-foot store at The Crossings Premium Outlets in Tannersville, Pa., on July 17.
The impetus for developing a brick-and-mortar unit was a result of knowledge gathered from the Lee.com online store, said Liz Cahill, Lee’s vice president of marketing and communications.
“We launched Lee.com about three years ago, and from that really understood consumers were hungry for a direct experience with the Lee brand and were seeking us out,” she said. “Once we realized that we had that level of trust, the next extension was to look at a brick-and-mortar, but knowing that we have a huge relationship with our retailers. We don’t want to compete — we want to enhance their business.”
Executives found that targeting premium outlets offered several advantages. Outlets have thrived in vacation areas and other locations far removed from densely populated retail hotspots in and near major cities, helping Lee avoid the suggestion its retail concept could cannibalize sales from the label’s wholesale customers.
In addition, Cahill said consumers have changed their attitudes about outlet malls over the last five years, embracing the concept of premium outlets. Brands have welcomed the chance to be surrounded by marquee names such as Polo and Nike, and in the recession, consumers have been lured to outlets in search of the best deals.
“[Tannersville] had more destination-type traffic,” said Cahill, noting its location in the heart of Pennsylvania’s Pocono resort area. “Consumers are going there for the mission of shopping.”
The store’s design and layout are intended to present the full Lee collection, with signage and displays that emphasize Lee’s fit solution for jeans, Cahill said. Within weeks of opening, executives found top volume styles at Lee’s key wholesale retailers were selling just as well at the outlet, but that customers were buying two or three of the same style in different washes and colors. Special sizes also proved to be strong performers.
“Traffic has doubled our initial plans,” she said. “Everything is double digit above plan.”
Lee plans to open three more stores at outlet centers during the first half of 2010.
The brand will host its 14th annual Lee National Denim Day on Oct. 2. Denim Day invites employees of U.S. corporations to make a $5 contribution to aid in the fight against breast cancer in exchange for wearing jeans to work for a day. The program has helped raise $75 million, and Cahill hopes to reach $80 million this year. Lee will donate $5 of every purchase made at The Crossings Outlet store throughout September to the cause.
“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