If a crowd of almost 3,000 at Marshall Field's here is any indication, Jennifer Lopez and her merchandise could go the distance and then some.
And that's what executives at Sweetface Fashions are banking on. The actress, entertainer and entrepreneur christened the first World of JLo shop at Field's Thursday with expansion planned.
"This is an incredible experience for me," Lopez told fans chanting "JLo, JLo!" who packed the first, third, fourth, fifth and sixth floors of Field's flagship. "How fitting that the World of JLo would launch at such an iconic store. I love Chicago. It's a perfect, perfect place for us."
She made no reference to the announcement this week by Federated Department Stores that Field's will be turning into Macy's in the fall of next year.
"Chicago is such a great city for fashion," Lopez told WWD after addressing the crowd during a public appearance of less than five minutes. "Marshall Field's has been so good to us, and we're happy to find a nice home for our first in-shop boutique."
The more than 800-square-foot lifestyle concept, with its ivory and dusty pink accents, features everything JLo: sportswear, jewelry, handbags, fragrances, lingerie and sunglasses. Modeled after the 2,850-square-foot Moscow freestanding boutique, which opened in late May 2004, the Field's launch marks more of what's to come for JLo and Sweetface.
"This is great," said Andy Hilfiger, president and co-founder of Sweetface Fashions, the masterbrand company for JLo. "Now we can go to other retailers and roll out these lifestyle shops."
Hilfiger has his sights set on in-shop boutiques in Macy's Herald Square in New York, Macy's West at Union Square in San Francisco and the former Burdines, which is now Macy's, in Florida, as well as a freestanding boutique in Las Vegas, but expansion abroad is most imminent.
Joseph Lamastra, co-founder and director for Sweetface Fashions, said plans are in progress to open a JLo by Jennifer Lopez boutique in Baku, Azerbaijan, in January, as the company scouts as many as nine additional sites in and near Russia, including one or two in downtown Moscow and in St. Petersburg.In addition, Lamastra said the company is moving to open two locations in Athens and one in Cyprus by the end of next year.
"She's popular all around the world," Lamastra said. "She's a global personality and we're a global company ... It's very controlled growth. Our philosophy is to do it slow and do it right."
Field's, meanwhile, celebrated housing the first World of JLo shop. "It's a very special thing for us," said Ralph Hughes, Field's regional vice president. "We're the first in America, and we like being first. It's a great collection and absolutely salable ... I think her line reflects who she is, and it's a way for customers to connect with her."
The JLo fans filling Field's and literally buying clothes off the World of JLo mannequins agreed. "It's so her and I love her style," said Krystle Hoshowski, 18, who traveled from suburban Niles, Ill. to see Lopez and the World of JLo.
Hoshowski and her friends, Karoline Pacholek, 19, of Des Plaines, Ill., and Daria Maka, 19, of Harwood Heights, Ill., were so taken by the shop they snapped pictures donning JLo trademark fedoras on stairs in the shop.
"Her fashion was so motivating for girls," Pacholek said. "I love all her clothes. It's so girly."
Positioned among other contemporary lines such as Lucky Brand on Field's second floor, World of JLo features ivory chiffon baby-doll tops with gold sequins around the scoop neck, chocolate brown knit gauchos, cotton herringbone wide-leg cuffed trousers with chocolate brown velvet trim and knit sweater dresses with fur pom-poms.
Prices are from $39 for a knit top to $300 for a leather jacket. Denim, which makes up 25 percent of the merchandise at Field's, ranges from $69 to $125, Hilfiger said. Holiday items from Sweetface, a higher-priced better contemporary collection, including fox-fur vests, cashmere sweaters and houndstooth slacks, also are offered in the World of JLo shop.
Hilfiger said World of JLo will receive new shipments and color stories each month.
After a fashion show later Thursday, Lopez appeared for a few seconds, waving to the crowd. The show raised more than $40,000 for the Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago.
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