IRVINE, Calif. — St. John is breaking the mold, launching a better contemporary line for resort called SoCa that is aimed at a younger customer and will operate separately from the brand’s signature label.
SoCa, a complete casual lifestyle collection targeting 35- to 55-year-olds, will be sold starting in November in freestanding company-owned stores dedicated exclusively to it at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, Calif., and in Palm Desert, Calif.
The line also will be available in 125 stores and displayed alongside brands such as Tory Burch and M Missoni in Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s. Retail prices range from $195 to $295 for tops and pants, and $395 to $695 for jackets and dresses.
The launch may be the boldest move yet made by Glenn McMahon since he was named chief executive officer in September 2007 after the departure of Richard Cohen, who stumbled when his strategy to lure younger customers with a new fit met resistance from loyal and mature clientele.
“SoCa is based on the Southern California lifestyle, but with a sophisticated urban edge,” McMahon said.
“It’s an opportunity to address a completely different contemporary customer that we would never have been able to reach with the collection line,” the ceo said, adding that he saw minimal crossover between the two customer bases.
However, Nordstrom plans to merchandise SoCa next to St. John’s shop-in-shops because it sees some crossover.
“The collection has a much younger, more contemporary attitude than the main St. John collection with the great fit of St. John, which is what we think gives it the broad crossover appeal,” said Jennifer Wheeler, vice president of women’s designer apparel for Nordstrom.
The recent changes in department stores’ bridge departments created space for SoCa, McMahon said.
“We saw an opportunity in the marketplace with the bridge category falling down, so to speak, and that our retail partners had a big open-to-buy in the space right under designer,” McMahon explained. “A downturn in the economy is sometimes the best time to launch new ideas because stores are looking for newness.” (For more on St. John, see page 25.)
Frank Doroff, vice chairman of Bloomingdale’s, hopes SoCa will invigorate the stagnant bridge category. “That zone of business has been difficult and having newness from a great name will spur business,” he said.
SoCa will go into 12 Bloomingdale’s stores, which is high for a new line, Doroff said.
The line has been designed by the Irvine, Calif.-based company’s in-house team led by vice president of design Greg Myler and overseen by executive vice president of design George Sharp.
“I basically gave Greg carte blanche and said, ‘Design what you think this contemporary woman is looking for,’” McMahon said. “Something casual, but not too beachy that would appeal to women in New York as well as Shanghai.”
With some 45 looks in the first delivery, SoCa addresses fashion-forward casual work options as well as cocktail and weekend wear aimed at a client younger than the St. John core customer. There are printed silk jersey minidresses with jewel necklines, above-the-knee taffeta dresses, leggings, skinny jeans, cropped jackets, bubble-sleeve trenchcoats and stretch denim short shorts. The line is predominantly woven and includes about one-third knitwear.
Like its parent line, all fabrics are developed in-house. And there are elements of St. John’s DNA throughout the SoCa line.
The bright colors, innovative patterned knits and packable fabrics like silk jersey and Ponti di Roma harken back to St. John’s signature Santana knit. One watercolor printed cotton cardigan is lined with a matching printed chiffon, and there’s a ruched chiffon cropped jacket that reverses to a flat texture.
The line has its own saffron label, which sports the SoCa logo with the St. John logo below in a smaller font. In addition, the two retail stores have their own Hollywood Regency aesthetic, with white powder-coat painted metal fixtures suspended from the ceiling, glossy black coffee tables and saffron couches.
McMahon said he has plans to build SoCa into a full lifestyle brand with fragrance and nonapparel categories launching within 12 months.
“This has the potential to be a $150 million to $200 million brand over the next five years,” he said, pointing out that Tory Burch reached that milestone in a similar time frame.
SoCa will also have its own Web site, designed by createthe group, though marketing will be less traditional than print ad campaigns. There have already been fashion shows at Neiman Marcus in Dallas, and a charity fashion show for Music for the Cure is planned for Nov. 14 in Laguna Beach, Calif.
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)
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