It's been a tough year for traditional women's sportswear, and vendors are hoping this fall will provide relief. From moderate to better to bridge, apparel targeting the 30-plus woman seems to be in a dry spell.
It's been a tough year for traditional women's sportswear, and vendors are hoping this fall will provide relief.
From moderate to better to bridge, apparel targeting the 30-plus woman seems to be in a dry spell, as an elusive customer and weak sales have hit the bottom line of the big vendors. But careful edits, trend-right items, casual lifestyle collections and a solid dose of marketing might be enough to reverse sliding sales for fall.
To beat market challenges, Andrea Goldreyer, better market analyst for The Doneger Group, recommends closely tailoring stockkeeping units and focusing on fashionable items, as opposed to collections sold from top to bottom.
"In any kind of a collections business, we need to have more focused assortments, because [the target consumer] is not buying in the quantity she was buying before," Goldreyer said. "The traffic is certainly down in the stores, but the customer is responding to any newness we are putting out for her."
For spring, Goldreyer said trend items that have sold well have included color, Bermuda shorts, A-line blouses, silk charmeuse blouses and the trapeze jacket — the last of which she said "stores didn't carry much for spring, but they will have more for fall." Going into fall, she is excited about the feminine blouse, the A-line jacket continuing in new textures, the wide-leg trouser, the updated turtleneck and other tops with new sleeve treatments, pencil skirts, plaids, men's wear patterns and color.
One of the reasons trapeze jackets are doing well is because they move from career to casual, and the better customer is demanding versatile lifestyle pieces, Goldreyer said. In the past, the traditional customer looked for business suits and other career resources, but now she wants more casual pieces, a lesson Nautica learned, said Denise Seegal, president and chief executive officer of its parent, VF Sportswear Coalition.
In the midst of VF Corp.'s record first-quarter results, Nautica's women's sportswear, which Seegal described as "still a work in progress" after its fall 2006 relaunch, was one of the only weak areas for the company. Revenues in VF's sportswear segment declined 8.9 percent to $148.4 million from $163 million, and management attributed much of this drop to Nautica."In general, the Nautica brand is having success, and women's sportswear is a very viable market for us," Seegal said. "We learned a lot from the soft launch for fall and holiday, such as a more casual product is what is selling, so we've adapted the product. It usually doesn't happen in the first nine months, but we hope to gain traction ASAP."
After VF announced its earnings, Liz Claiborne Inc. also traced its slide in first-quarter earnings back to weak wholesale figures in Claiborne's traditional women's sportswear brands. Net income fell 65.5 percent to $16.2 million from $46.9 million in the year-ago period, and sales fell 1.6 percent to $1.15 billion from $1.17 billion.
"These are hard headlines, but we aren't alone in this, particularly in the women's sportswear area," said Claiborne ceo William L. McComb.
Kellwood Co. shared in the pain. Kellwood's earnings for the first quarter ended May 5 fell 19.7 percent, driven by softness in women's sportswear, which makes up more than half of the $1.9 billion firm's business. The segment led the losses with earnings that fell 13.3 percent to $12.9 million from $14.8 million, and sales slipped 3.2 percent from $281.4 million to $272.5 million.
McComb blamed an industry-wide "acceleration of many of the negative trends that have impacted our wholesale business over the past few years:" retailers' growing reliance on private and exclusive brands, increasing margin pressure and declining consumer demand for traditional and bridge women's sportswear.
"It's clear that retail and national brands have become a very serious force in this competitive marketplace," said consultant Emanuel Weintraub. "The retailer private brands, like INC and Arizona, have been perceived by the consumer as brands equal to most other brands, and the national brands have to demonstrate a clear advantage to the retailer for them to buy a product that is going to sell at higher prices and deliver lower margins."
Weintraub said the key to differentiating brands is investing in marketing. Customers must view brands as offering not just clothing but also a lifestyle — and that takes smart advertising dollars, he said.
Consultant Robin Lewis proposed another option: If you can't beat retailer demands, join them, by partnering with stores to make the brands exclusive, such as the arrangements O Oscar and T Tahari have with Macy's, Simply Vera Vera Wang has with Kohl's Corp. and Liz & Co. has with J.C. Penney.When lines can deliver newness that meets the customers' needs, sales needn't suffer. Jones Apparel Group bucked the trend in its first quarter, posting a 2.7 percent increase in earnings to $1.25 billion from $1.22 billion and a sales gain of 2.3 percent to $1.23 billion, driven largely by a strong better apparel business, according to the company.
@chanel and @pharrell dropped what’s being dubbed as the world’s most exclusive sneakers yesterday. The Adidas Originals NMD Hu, which Williams designed in collaboration with Chanel and @adidasoriginals, has a waiting list of over 120K people who pre-registered online at chanelatcolette.fr –– and only 500 pairs are on sale. The singer predicted the resale value of the shoes could reach $40K. Read the full interview on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdfashion (📷: Dominique Maître)
@imanshumpert is diving deeper into his creative endeavors and relaunching his clothing line, Post 90s, and is helping to raise money for the hurricane victims in St. Maarten with a jersey he’s designed with his brother. The Cleveland Cavaliers player talked to WWD about kneeling during the national anthem, working with fashion brands and how he wants to be more than an @nba player. Read the interview on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)
Not only does #TheProfit return to CNBC tonight, but @marcuslemonis has launched @shopmarcus, a new shopping and lifestyle retail experience in Aspen and Chicago, with more locations to come. The retail stores offer in-store stylists and a variety of contemporary womenswear selections.
“It’s life, I’m going to face it,” @mingxi11 sighed. “I fell, but you know, I think the most important thing is that I get back up. I had the love, the help from my sister — the girl next to me Gizele [Oliveira] — she’s so nice. When I went backstage everybody was trying to comfort me like ‘Oh Ming, it’s OK.’ I’m really, really touched. I think it’s them who gave me the courage to go back on stage for the finale,” Xi told WWD of her fall at the @victoriassecret fashion show. (📷: David Fisher) #wwdfashion #vsfashionshow #victoriassecret
@louisvuitton tapped @therealpeterlindbergh for its latest city-centric photo book, which is part of a series called Fashion Eye. The primarily black and white book captures the spirit of Berlin in 57 images shot between 1989 and 2019. “Berlin is an inspiration for me, more than a city. I mean @millajovovich is simply Berlin!” said Lindbergh. #wwdfashion
“You know, I think audiences expect a certain performance so I have to deliver to them what they’re expecting to a certain degree. But I’m also a different actor and a different person, I have my own spin on the character,” says @noahegalvin of his takeover of the leading role in “Dear Evan Hansen” following the departure of @bensplatt, who originated the role. Read WWD’s interview with the 23-year-old actor on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
For pre-fall 2018, @etro created richly-colored wonderland, using tapestries, textiles and wallpapers from the Eastern world at large. The line featured floral and graphic prints and jacquard motifs, like this two-piece look featured here. #wwdfashion (📷: Giovanna Pavesi)
@kith is moving into children’s. The men’s and women’s streetwear brand has launched Kidset, a Kith kids line located in New York at 64 Bleecker Street. The line includes mini versions of staple Kith pieces like the Astor bomber jacket and the Kith box logo sweatshirts, along with a wall that can display up to 120 pairs of shoes from @adidas, @newbalance, @timberland and more. #wwdfashion
“I just wanted to create this fully rounded character, but I do think what excited me most was just the opportunity to give a group of people representation that I feel needs it. I like to do characters in projects that stand for something and Karolina definitely does, so that was really exciting to me,” @ginnygardner says of her new role in @hulu’s “The Runaways.” Gardner plays Karolina Dean, a queer superhero, which is a rarity for @marvel. Read more about Gardner’s character on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @dandoperalski)