Building the Franchise: With Help From Saks, Designer Nancy Heller Ups Her Stake in the Southeast
ATLANTA -- Nancy Heller must have nine lives. Although she closed her 22-year-old sportswear company in 1992, she immediately signed an agreement with Saks Fifth Avenue to open in-store boutiques and freestanding franchise stores. So far, the business...
ATLANTA -- Nancy Heller must have nine lives. Although she closed her 22-year-old sportswear company in 1992, she immediately signed an agreement with Saks Fifth Avenue to open in-store boutiques and freestanding franchise stores. So far, the business is thriving.
The decision to close the sportswear line was difficult, especially since Heller had watched it grow until it hit $34 million in sales. "Because of the economy, things were becoming more difficult," said Heller. "Stores were going out of business, reorders were becoming smaller. It was a matter of go out of business or change."
That change materialized in the Saks agreement, which allowed Heller to cut expenses dramatically. By selling directly from the factory to Saks, prices are down 30 to 40 percent from the wholesale line. As a result, Heller notes, "I've gone from a staff of 85 to eight and we don't have to pay warehousing, security or computer costs."
As of now, there are 28 boutiques and 10 Nancy Heller for Saks Fifth Avenue stores, including the location just opened at Phipps Plaza here. The March opening of a Charleston, S.C., location will bring the store total to 11, and the Southeast total to four. Two Florida outposts, in Miami and Naples, average 2,000 square feet, with annual sales typically between $1 million and $1.5 million. Sales for the Atlanta store are projected at $1 million for 1994.
"The Sunbelt is a natural choice, because the region had a strong identification with the Nancy Heller wholesale line," said Joseph Moore, senior vice president, specialty stores, Saks Fifth Avenue. "And the Southeast customer seems to like the more casual feeling offered by a California-based designer."
"I've always had a very casual, nonconstructed approach," said Heller, speaking by phone from Los Angeles. "I design clothes for hanging around the house, but also for the working woman. Some of our better cashmere works for black tie events." She currently does six collections a year, with goods rotated in the stores each month. "We can carry the entire line in the freestanding stores," said Moore. "The in-store shops have the same atmosphere on a smaller scale, with about half of the total line represented." Both concepts feature light wood and stainless steel fixtures, with merchandise both folded and hung on racks.Retail prices start at $60 for a T-shirt and go up to $300 for a cashmere sweater, with the bulk of merchandise between $100 and $300. Separates include easy silhouettes, such as pull-on pants and tunic sweaters, in linen, silk, cotton and cashmere. A best-selling item in Atlanta has been silk and linen-blend drawstring pants, which sold 20 of 30 units over a three-week period. For summer, the collection includes stretch terry cloth, pinstripe shirting in shirts and pajama pants, as well as ethnic prints that go forward into transition.
"One of my goals is to have buy-now-wear-now goods in the stores," said Heller. "We want to carry clothes closer to season."
That's not Heller's only goal, however. Next up is an accessory line, hopefully for fall 1994, that will include scarves, belts, handbags, hats and jewelry, priced from $75 to $300 retail. They're expected to add another 20 percent to the designer's bottom line.
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews
“Stranger Things” is getting a new cast member for season 2. Meet @sadiesink_, the 15-year-old who will be joining the Netflix series for its new season. You may recognize her from “The Glass Castle” with Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, but the Texas native’s next role goes in an entirely different direction. She describes her character, Max, as “a rough and tumble skater girl [who] becomes friends with the boys at school.” The second season debuts on October 27. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdeye
Amid the Harvey Weinstein controversy, there’s another sector that’s being put under the spotlight for sexual abuse: the modeling industry. While rumors about abuse and sexual harassment of female and male models — and the photographers, agents and others who perpetrated it — have circulated within the fashion world for years, model @cameronrussell started posting stories from models on Instagram last week about abusive situations they’ve encountered — from sexual harassment and molestation to attempted rape. Over 75 have weighed in so far. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews
To celebrate its 16th anniversary, @dylanscandybar tapped designers and celebrities to create mosaics out of candy. The mosaics will be auctioned off to support the philanthropic cause of each participant’s choice. Pictured here is the mural created by @aliceandolivia's Stacey Bendet. For a first look at some of the other artwork being unveiled tonight, go to WWD.com. #wwdeye
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye