IT ALL ADDS UP: Seventy years is a milestone for any business, let alone a women’s fashion one in an increasingly overcrowded field.
To celebrate its 70th, Talbots has created a limited-edition, seven-piece collection that was inspired by women who represented iconic fashion moments during the past seven decades. Those looks “really reflected upon our brand’s modern classic style sensibility,” said Deb Cavanagh, senior vice president of marketing. “We really wanted to claim this moment to celebrate the relationship we have had with women over seven decades. The amazing thing about that is it’s generations of women and their daughters and granddaughters.”
As of Sept. 18, all of Talbots’ 440 stores will have a sampling of the 70th-anniversary-inspired line and larger stores will have more merchandise. Those bigger locations will feature the limited-run item in window displays and with prime placement in stores. It will also be sold online. Should the collection sell out quickly, shoppers can count on Talbots’ concierge program, which ensures that “customers can get anything, anywhere,” Cavanagh said. Rolled out initially in 20 stores, the concierge program arms associates with iPads to showcase the full range of options and offer clients styling tips.
The assortment includes a Lauren Bacall-inspired white shirt for the Forties; the faux pearl statement necklace for the Fifties; the little black dress from the Sixties (an homage to Jackie O.); the slouchy turtleneck from the Seventies, reminiscent of Ali MacGraw’s “Love Story” look; the “Working Girl”-like bold blazer from the Eighties; the signature scarf from the Nineties, and the merlot-colored Millennial bag from the 2000s. The pricing starts at $79.50 for the ivory-patterned scarf or necklace and tops off at $229 for the wine-colored dual-handled bag. Each piece has been modernized to try to appeal to a wider range of consumers beyond its base, Cavanagh said.
The company’s first freestanding store still stands in Hingham, Mass., where Rudolf and Nancy Talbots opened it in 1947. The following year, Talbots launched a direct-mail business by distributing 3,000 fliers to names obtained from The New Yorker magazine. In the years that followed, Talbots has developed into a mail-order and e-commerce business that includes 440 freestanding full-priced stores and 114 factory stores.
“We’re really projecting a true sense of appreciation, pride and optimism in the way that we engage women. I really believe that now more than ever, that transcends perception. The way that we will break through with women who currently don’t shop with us is through some other initiatives,” Cavanagh said.
Case in point is Talbots’ ties to Dress for Success and O, The Oprah Magazine, which bolstered engagement and brought some women up-to-speed about what Talbots represents today. On Sept. 25, Talbots will be introducing an advertising campaign that will be “rather unconventional,” Cavanagh said. “Our strategy is always about focusing and appreciating our existing customer, but finding ways that connect and resonate with all women so that we’re not one or the other so that we’re finding that universal appeal and relevance.”