Moving away from its dressy, tailoring-heavy presentation last season, Nautica emphasized All-American sportswear in its fall preview, staged at the Glasshouses space at the Chelsea Arts Tower on Tuesday.
“We’re celebrating Americanism and promoting a Portland-to-Portland kind of tour,” said Chris Cox, vice president of design and creative at the VF Corp.-owned brand. “There are influences from the Northwest and Northeast. We wanted to bring it back to how guys really dress and mix it up.”
That mix included a focus on corduroy, for sports jackets and pleated pants, flannel shirts in the requisite plaid, and clean denim in straight-leg fits. Outerwear came in inventive twists on classics such as a chalk-strip toggle coat or a Fair Isle sweater melded with a puffer vest. A water-repellent anorak was fashioned with a plush quilted wool vest attached inside.
“We wanted to make more of a statement in woolens,” said Cox of the lineup of wool pants, turtlenecks and even knit ties.
Apart from the fashion, Nautica has kept a keen eye on pricing for fall. Last year, the company elevated prices in an attempt to upscale the brand, but the move impacted sales. Total Nautica volume declined 13 percent in 2009 on top of an 11 percent fall in 2008, which the company attributed to difficult market conditions in department stores and lower sales at its over 100 Nautica outlet stores. However, operating margins improved in 2009 due to aggressive cost and inventory reductions.
“We are still offering great quality but at sharper price points,” said Karen Murray, president of VF’s sportswear coalition, which includes Nautica and Kipling. “Our prices have come down from the elevated pricing of last year. The strategy has resonated very well with consumers and for the first quarter of this year our sales trend is up in the high double digits over last year and plan. Our sell-throughs are much stronger.”
Nautica’s key retail partners include Macy’s Inc., Belk Inc., Lord & Taylor LLC and The Bon-Ton Stores Inc. Murray added Nautica has been able to capture trends by fulfilling orders faster and bringing in “infusion” product — quick hits of fashion product to key doors.
“We looked at where our product was going out the door and got our prices closer to a realistic number, without stripping down the garments,” added Cox. “Our biggest goal is to turn the business around and get the volume and momentum back.”
Alberta Ferretti's "Rainbow Week" sweaters are back. The designer closed her #MFW show with a few day-of-the-week sweaters, which first debuted on the catwalk last January as part of the pre-fall 2017 collection. #wwdfashion (📷: @delphineachard)