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J Brand to Open First Stand-alone Stores

Fast Retailing’s acquisition of the denim brand is bearing fruit in a more detailed strategy to open locations in Los Angeles and New York in the coming year.

LAS VEGAS — Fast Retailing Co.’s acquisition of J Brand is bearing fruit in a more detailed strategy to open the premium denim brand’s first stand-alone retail stores in Los Angeles and New York in the coming year.

This story first appeared in the August 21, 2013 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Eight months after Japan’s Fast Retailing, which also owns Uniqlo, Theory and Helmut Lang, purchased a majority stake in J Brand for $290 million, the company is negotiating to secure a location for its Los Angeles store that will open by next summer. The second outpost will bow in New York by the end of 2014.

Both units represent more than vanity plays in retail. “Profitability is very important to the equation,” said Jeff Rudes, J Brand’s chief executive officer, while presenting the company’s new collections at the apparel trade shows here. “We’re about profits. We’re a very profitable company. Our partners at Fast Retailing are very profitable.”

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Moreover, he noted that the Los Angeles address for the company’s first store isn’t found on a trendy street.

“It’s a little bit off the beaten path,” he said. “We’re around very cool brands that have profitable stores. We don’t believe you have to be on a cool street like Melrose Place to create an image and make money.”

In describing the design edict for the stores, Rudes cited “contemporary and clean with a modern touch [and] spacious.” As for stocking the shelves, he said J Brand isn’t rushing to expand into new product categories before the stores launch. Indeed, he said the first brand extension won’t come before 2015.

“It’s enough to fill a store between our jeans and ready-to-wear,” he said.

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