Shopping mall executives weigh in on the 10 best new retail concepts — defined as no more than two years old — which are ranked by number of existing stores. For the story behind the list, see opposite page.


C.J. BANKS 92 stores

Christopher & Banks’ plus-size concept bowed in fall 2000, offering traditional clothing in sizes 14 and up. The fashion consists of novelty sweaters with embroidered Santas, quilted jackets with snowman appliqués and rhinestone-studded separates for celebrating the holidays. The company plans to expand the chain to 400 units in the next few years.


HOLLISTER 71 stores

Abercrombie & Fitch’s Hollister Co. targets 14- to 18-year-olds. Introduced in July 2000, the brand features surf-inspired clothing, such as boardshorts, sweatshirts and sweaters that reflect the laid-back California lifestyle. Mike Jeffries, Hollister ceo, said the chain can potentially grow to 800 units.


TORRID 25 stores

Torrid, a spinoff of Hot Topic, opened its doors in April 2001 at the Brea Mall in Brea, Calif. The retailer has filled a niche left virtually unexplored by the fashion industry: large-size clothing for teens. By the end of the year, Torrid will have opened about 30 units, ranging in size from 2,500 to 3,000 square feet. The assortment consists of 50 percent private label and 50 percent established junior brands, such as Paris Blues, Dickies and Hot Kiss.



As part of its acquisitions spree, Retail Brand Alliance purchased Adrienne Vittadini in 2001. The company relaunched the ready-to-wear collection, which encompasses career, weekend, casual and eveningwear, and expanded the accessories offerings. Retail Brand Alliance plans to open 50 stores over three years while building the brand into a $100 million business.


CAROLEE 15 stores

In 2000, Carolee Friedlander opened the first freestanding Carolee boutique in Greenwich, Conn. The following year, her company was bought by Retail Brand Alliance, and Friedlander suddenly had the financial support to open more stores. "This is about how I see the brand and not about how a department store crams it into a case," said Friedlander, who still runs the business. She sees the chain having between 60 and 100 units.


MISHMASH 12 stores

Mishmash, a division of Too Inc., targets girls 14 to 19 years old with intimate apparel, swimwear, sportswear, accessories and personal care products. When the first Mishmash store opened in September 2001, the product mix was 10 to 15 percent sportswear. The category has since grown to 40 percent, but the store’s main focus is cosmetics. Mishmash plans to open 30 stores next year and could ultimately become a 750-store chain.


JANIE AND JACK 11 stores

From the creators of Gymboree comes Janie and Jack, a high-end chain for babies and toddlers. Clothing is distinctive andpriced about 20 percent higher than Gymboree. The stores are designed to look like old-fashioned boutiques with wainscoting, tin ceilings and furniture-like fixtures. "It’s a market that’s under served," a spokeswoman said, adding, "There’s a baby boomlet."


CLUB LIBBY LU 10 stores

To hear founder, Mary Drolet tell it, Club Libby Lu is more than a store, it’s an experience. Launched in 2000, Libby Lu includes an area called Libby’s Laboratory, where girls can mix and make their own lotions and potions; Libby’s Room, where phones, bedding, T-shirts and loungewear is for sale; the Princess Pad, with a Magic 8-Ball-style game, and the Style Studio, where girls can be made over to look like pop stars and fairy-tale princesses.



Aura Science, a venture between Intimate Beauty Corp. and Shiseido, is Limited Brands’ first foray into the prestige beauty arena. Four Skin Phases each serve three skin types. The classic Limited bravura is evident in the company’s insistence that Aura Science could be a $1 billion global company. Shiseido’s Japanese influence is felt when customers walk into the store and are greeted with a warm hand towel.


BEBE SPORT 7 stores

Bebe Sport will be operating seven stores by the end of the year and 20 Sport shop-in-shops are slated to open in larger Bebe locations. The brand features active-inspired casual wear in comfortable, sexy styles. Fabrics include denim, fleece, terry and velour, with an average price point of $45. Bebe Sport is geared to 18- to 35-year-olds who wear labels such as Adidas and Nuala.

SOURCE: ORIGINAL REPORTING; MALL LEASING AGENTS AND MARKETING DIRECTORS*chains with the same number of stores are listed in no particular order

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