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Silver Jeans Co. will kick off its entry into retail with five store openings in successive months beginning in July with a unit in The Woodlands Mall in Woodlands, Tex.
Two other Texas units will open during the five-month span — at La Plaza Mall in McAllen in September and at Stonebriar Centre Mall in Frisco in November. In between the openings in Texas, Silver will open at Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn., in August and at Glendale Galleria in Los Angeles in October.
The stores, built around the concept of an urban loft apartment occupied by three twentysomethings of limited means — named Gordie, Zac and Monica — are the first step in a retail journey outlined by Michael Silver, chief executive officer of the Winnipeg-based jeans firm, for WWD last May. The plan calls for 25 to 30 stores in the next five years and about 50 over the course of the next decade.
The footprint will be slightly larger than first envisioned, with stores coming in at between 2,000 and 3,000 square feet rather than the original plan for units in the 1,600- to 2,000-square-foot range.
“We worked hard at not being too slick,” Silver told WWD. “We wanted the juxtaposition of a comfortable home environment along with an industrial feel. The loft idea fits the concept of our customer, who might want a loft look and feel but not have enough money to fully furnish it.”
Retaining Tersigni Palachek Design Collective, Silver combined an almost random assortment of personal touches to go with its selling space and a large video wall that highlights both the company’s products and a multimedia jukebox that can be programmed by customers on their mobile devices. Album covers and die-cast model cars adorn each store.
Customers will enter the stores through large industrial doors. “There’s no signage outside, and there’s no storefront per se,” said Michael Tersigni, the Gap Inc. veteran who operates Tersigni Palachek with fellow Gap alumnus David Palachek. “The doors open to the entire store, which translates into ease of access and an open, inviting feeling, and essentially make the store the display window.”
The industrial feeling is driven home by skylights, and the urban feeling by mountain bikes that hang from the ceiling.
“We called this project ‘the blind date,’” said Tersigni. “Silver gave us its brand marketing bible and said, ‘You’re the experts. Come back to us and tell us who we should be in a retail setting.’”
Site selection was a more deliberate process for the company, which generates annual sales of about $160 million.
“We didn’t start out to have a Texas hub or even a location close to our retail offices in Burbank, Calif.,” Silver said. “We wanted ‘A’ malls in strong denim markets with growing economies, as well as good locations within the mall itself.”
The list of about 200 centers was refined to about 20, with further reductions based on space availability made by Silver’s retail team, headed by Denise Norkus, vice president of retail.
The company’s assortment remains heavily focused on jeans and jeanswear, although it’s ventured further into tops in recent seasons. Silver said the company has worked with vendors who will help further expand the assortment in stores, which could serve as a prelude to possible licensing arrangements, a step he is reluctant to take as the retail launch looms.
“We were careful in our approach to this,” he concluded. “We didn’t want to alienate people who aspire to be part of our brand, and we didn’t want to communicate a discount mentality. Like our fit, look and price, we wanted to be right in the middle.”