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Over the last 35 years, Peter Nygård has developed a strong reputation in North American retailing and established himself as a force in women’s moderate fashion.
This story first appeared in the December 11, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Retailers in Canada and the U.S., many of which have carried the Nygård brands since their inception, look to the consistency and focus of the lines to appeal to their customers. Part of what sets Nygård apart is not only the sophistication of its manufacturing operations, but also the company’s willingness to listen to its accounts and tweak and develop apparel in ways that benefit both parties.
Edward Matier, group vice president of merchandising, apparel and accessories at Sears Canada, said he has worked with Nygård for nearly 20 years.
“It’s a great company,” Matier said. “I’ve worked with them as everything from a buyer to a business manager to a vice president. They are a very product-focused and customer-focused company and quite unique in the industry.
“The key to Nygård is the consistency in that focus since I’ve known them. They know who their customer is, they are focused on the value of their products and their product is priced appropriately for their niche in the marketplace.”
One of the benefits of such a long-standing relationship, in Matier’s view, is the back-and-forth nature of their business dealings.
“We’ve been able to develop a strategic alliance and have open conversations about their products,” he said. “It’s a strong private label company and the product is very differentiated. We also have a very good working relationship with them up front, preseason.”
Sears Canada carries the misses’ and contemporary lines of Nygård under the Tan Jay and Alia labels.
“The Canadian customer knows the brand — it is the premier moderate women’s brand in Canada,” said Matier. “It’s moderately priced and the quality of Nygård is excellence. They spend a lot of time focused on that and on new pieces that the customer will accept, so that year after year it’s not same old, same old.”
According to Matier, the Nygård company keeps its eye on the mark by analyzing its competitors, what they are selling, how they can update their bestsellers and also any additional information they can glean from the marketplace.
“Peter’s had a vision for the company and he’s been very good at keeping and modifying that focus when needed,” Matier said. “Also, the management team has been on board and consistent with that and they’ve been in place for a significant number of years. For us as a retailer, there is great consistency there. They listen to what we say because there are things we insist on and they will adapt it into the line.”
Another Canadian retailer, The Bay, a division of Hudson’s Bay Co., has carried Nygård brands for years.
“I’ve personally known Peter Nygård for 30 years,” said George Heller, president and chief executive officer at Hudson’s Bay Co. “The Bay division of stores has carried various Nygård brands for as long as I can remember. They’re a Canadian company and so are we. We probably carry 90 to 95 percent of his lines.
“He’s done a good job with the brand matrix in that it sort of covers every piece of the waterfront in terms of customer segments. We talk about ladies’ wear like it’s one homogenous woman, but there is lifestyle, price point and fashionability to consider, and Nygård does a good job with the overall positioning of the Nygård group of brands.”
Heller noted that Nygård has always been technologically ahead of the game in terms of manufacturing, inventory levels and product flow. From a fashion standpoint, the firm’s strength lies in careerwear, according to Heller.
“In sportswear, it’s a good quality product — the firm manufactures a lot of its own,” he said. “Even if he sources outside of his own manufacturing, he’s got really good quality control. You don’t find problems with his products. It’s almost seamless, whether he manufactures or outsources the manufacturing. It’s a consistent product over time.
“The brand is extremely well known in Canada. It has been around for an awfully long time. He’s developed this sort of stable of brands and, by the way he’s a character, too,” he continued.
J.C. Penney Co. also carries Nygård products and counts its high-quality standards, efficiency and market reads as important components to the company’s strengths.
“Nygård is known throughout the industry as a very professional, well-run company,” said Ken Mangone, vice president and divisional merchandise manager for careerwear and contemporary sportswear at Penney’s, in a statement.
“Peter Nygård and his team set a high standard of service and back it up with their ability to react quickly to changes in the market and the needs of our customers. They have an efficient replenishment system that enables them to quickly adjust to sales trends.”