Americans enlisted in the Army and Air Force and their families don’t have to wait for a leave to sample the latest from Estée Lauder or L’Oréal. Instead, they can pop into the AAFES (Army Air Forces Exchange Service) store on base and find virtually everything typically found at department stores, drugstores and food stores under one roof.
What’s unique about AAFES stores is that since they don’t compete directly with prestige outlets, many premium brands have opened up distribution to their doors.
On the high end, AAFES stocks Estée Lauder, Clinique, Lancôme and Elizabeth Arden. Beauty advisers are on hand to help shoppers with the prestige lines. To offer a variety of price points, however, the stores also offer mass brands including Cover Girl, Revlon, Almay, L’Oréal and Maybelline. AAFES is also testing Avon in two stores. And, the company is staying in tune with hair-care trends by adding four feet of salon brands to its health and beauty care department.
AAFES, based in Dallas, currently operates 105 stores in the continental U.S. and 51 sites overseas, producing retail sales exceeding $7 billion. There is a worldwide customer base of more than seven million, including two million people in active duty, their families and more than three million retirees.
With an increase in the nation’s military efforts, the stores are also busier, with overall sales through June up 4 percent over the same period last year. The beauty business expanded about 1 percent, according to Fred Bluhm, AAFES spokesman.
Beauty is important business at AAFES. Internal studies have shown customers spend more than 34 percent of their available beauty income with AAFES. AAFES is aiming to move that percentage even higher, said Louise Reza, the category manager team manager for jewelry fragrance and cosmetics..
Since AAFES customers are frequently in a hurry, the store favors a "concept" approach to merchandising that presents beauty as a store within a store. Two years ago, AAFES first tested a concept store where fragrances and cosmetics were merged in an area near jewelry. Reza said the concept encouraged shoppers to browse as long as they wished or simply drop in for a quick need. Sales in the initial test rose 10 percent, and the concept has been rolled out.The concept design has actually allowed AAFES to condense the space it needs for beauty while allowing the company to make a brand and price statement. The size of the department ranges from 1,200 to 4,300 square feet. AAFES is working on a universal fixture to showcase its prestige products. The departments are upscale and carpeted — more reminiscent of a department store than a mass market outlet.
Another major department for AAFES is bath and body. Again, a destination concept department was created in 2000 that helped the company achieve bath and home fragrance sales exceeding $19 million that year, a 36 percent increase over 1999. In January, AAFES introduced a private-label bath and body line called Cherish The Feeling.
Like many merchants, AAFES also looks for new items to differentiate its assortment. Although there aren’t competitors on bases, AAFES must compete against Wal-Mart, department stores and specialty stores.
Teenagers have become a hot market segment for AAFES, and a new budget private-label beauty brand will be launched this fall to tap that market, as well as women looking for value pricing. The line will be called Cherish The Look and include lip gloss, mascaras, eye shadows and makeup kits. At the other end of the spectrum, Reza said she’s excited about a skin care product to serve aging baby boomers.
AAFES stores also sell everything from tools to jewelry, including many brand names such as Adidas.
AAFES stores make a huge difference for people in the service. "That’s our big night out on the town...going to AAFES," said Doug Holzbauer. "You really can get everything you need without having to fight crowds."
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“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