LOS ANGELES — Arden B. is set to unveil Luxe, a higher-end line, in the chain’s 100 stores this summer as an effort to broaden its reach to customers.
This story first appeared in the May 23, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
In July, the contemporary division of Foothill Ranch, Calif.-based Wet Seal Inc. will introduce the line, featuring domestically produced finer yarns, heavier gauge cashmere-wool blends and European fabrics. Prices are 25 to 40 percent higher than Arden B.’s traditional tags, which range from $45 to $68 for tops and $68 to $118 for bottoms.
Luxe will start as 10 percent of Arden B.’s total in-store assortment, but could increase to 25 percent if the customers respond, according to Susan Peterson, vice president of design and product development.
“In fashion right now, there’s a lot of overlap in looks,” she said. “By introducing better fabrics, it’s still fashion, but it’s more ‘classic with a twist.’ We want to offer more value — something that will stay in their closet to [match] with all the trendier items.”
Among the offerings are a wool bouclé jacket and coat with fur trim tagged at $158, boiled cashmere sweaters at $110 to $148, and wool-Lycra spandex blend suits with jackets, $158, pants, $128, and skirts, $88.
Going to the higher end was the only option for Arden B., said Peterson. “If we were to go to a lower price point, we’d start competing in Wet Seal’s junior market. We still have a price edge, but Luxe’s prices are still lower than contemporary in department stores.”
Parent company Wet Seal, with a total of 618 stores under Wet Seal, Arden B., Contempo Casuals and Zutopia banners, has been suffering months of same-store sales declines. The company has been working to clear inventory and get fresh merchandise into stores to counteract comp-sales decreases of 27.1 percent in March, 18 percent in the fourth quarter ended Feb. 1, and a decline of 5.6 percent in fiscal 2002.
Net sales for the fourth quarter totaled $161.2 million, compared with net sales of $181.5 million for the prior-year period. Net sales for fiscal 2002 totaled $608.5 million, up slightly from $601.9 million for fiscal 2001.