LONDON — The high street’s favorite little sister, Miss Selfridge, is growing up.
The British brand, with its pink fuzzy heart logo, has long been perceived as a fluffy, girly version of leading high-street names such as Topshop, Warehouse, H&M and Zara. But all that is set to change.
"Miss Selfridge used to be exclusive, the store where shoppers would go before looking anywhere else," said Sim Scavazza, the new brand director at Miss Selfridge, which belongs to the privately-held Arcadia Group. "People have short memories. They don’t remember that the brand has been around since 1966. There is such heritage and it has lost some of its gravitas over the years."
Launched in 1966 by Charles Clore, the owner of the British department store Selfridges, Miss Selfridge started life as the young women’s casual department in the store. Miss Selfridge still held a concession there until last year, when Miss Selfridge was bought by Philip Green’s Arcadia Group.
In the Seventies, the Miss Selfridge advertising campaign was a rite of passage for top models. Even Kate Moss had her turn, in the fall 1992 campaign dubbed Wonderful Star. Scavazza is determined to rebuild the excitement and confidence of the brand.
Her plan is to lose the young and clubby image, and project an edgier and more stylish brand.
Miss Selfridge’s target customer is between 15- and 29-years old, with the most money being spent by 18- to 24-year olds. With appearances by DJs, manicurists and palm readers during the school holidays, Miss Selfridge is aiming for the youth market, although Scavazza said she hopes to reach customers of all ages.
"We are trying to steer away from age limits, and make the brand more about attitude," Scavazza said. "I want to see Miss Selfridge as more of a brand than a retailer, sticking to its ideals with no compromising. I want other stores to see us as a leader."
The design team has been expanded from three to five, with freelancers dipping in now and again. The goal is to become more of a product-based business. Scavazza also plans to focus on the Originals line, which launched last December. Originals is a collection inspired by the designs Miss Selfridge sold in the Seventies."Authenticity is where it’s at," said Scavazza. The line is currently sold at the Miss Selfridge flagship on Oxford Street, next door to Topshop, which also is owned by Arcadia. By July, five other Miss Selfridge units across the U.K. will also stock the line.
There are currently 193 Miss Selfridge stores worldwide, including franchises, and no current plans to open any more sales points. Arcadia does not release sales figures for any of its companies, but industry sources estimate the brand has annual sales of over $160 million, making approximately a $16,000 pre-tax profit.
Last year, Miss Selfridge launched a signature line of shoes in its Oxford Street store, and the line also will be extended to other stores.
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