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At Macy’s, 16 percent of the traffic is Latino — and it’s been a major market miss.
This story first appeared in the December 5, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Acknowledging its “white space,” or dearth of products, targeting Latinos, Macy’s today will unveil a Thalía Sodi collection for a spring 2015 launch. Also today, the Mexican pop star is scheduled to visit the Hollywood Walk of Fame, where she’s getting her own star.
“We’re going big from the beginning with Thalía,” Jeff Gennette, Macy Inc.’s chief merchandising officer, told WWD.
Underscoring how much the retailer wants to better connect with Latinos, Gennette said Thalía dresses, tops, pants, shoes and jewelry will be rolled out to 300 stores and macys.com from the outset, and that additional categories are in the works. A multiyear agreement for the exclusive Thalía Sodi brand was signed, though no financial details were disclosed.
“This is the first time we’ve done a launch in multicategories — apparel, jewelry and shoes. That’s important,” Gennette said. “The Latina customer is very coordinated. She is always put together and is always going to be accessorized. We want to make sure we really speak to a complete lifestyle.”
“This will be a full collection, sexy, but not simple, with color, prints, embellishments, things that flatter the body, comfortable tops, sexy bottoms,” Sodi said. “It’s all fresh, new and young with my point of view, my personal fashion style.”
She’s considered Mexico’s reigning soap opera queen and a singing sensation. She first performed at age nine, and in 1986 joined Timbiriche, a Mexican rock band that was commercially successful for about a decade. She launched a solo career in 1990 and has since sold more than 40 million records. She’s also a mother of two, an author, and a spokeswoman for the March of Dimes.
“I’m always active,” Sodi said. “I always want to look my best, but feel comfortable. Latinas — we love life. We enjoy music, family and cooking.”
Some special consideration has to be brought to the line’s design. “We are more curvy. We kind of have curves in maybe different ways,” Sodi observed. “We will definitely pay attention to that. But it’s really about an attitude.”
Sodi and her husband, the music mogul Tommy Mottola, said they want the Thalía Sodi appeal to be inclusive, rather than exclusive to Latinas. “It’s not going to be just a brand for one niche,” Sodi said. “It will be universal,” Mottola said.
Macy’s is not Sodi’s first fashion venture. Ten years ago she launched a line with Kmart, which was discontinued after about a year. Mottola said that collection made its debut with a bang but disappeared because Kmart had a change in strategic direction that didn’t support Sodi’s label. Kmart came back with an exclusive Sofía Vergara collection in 2011 that seems geared as much for soccer moms of all origins, not just Latinas.
While wearing many hats, Sodi is not a designer. For her Macy’s collection, she’ll provide input with her ideas and fashion sense, and serve as the brand’s model and spokeswoman. Thalía Sodi products will be designed and produced by Macy’s private brand team, and geared for women at least 31 years of age. “Thalia is able to speak directly with this segment,” Gennette said. “She is very passionate. She talks about flirty looks, recognizes the need that this product has value. She celebrates her curves. She really gets this customer.”
Gennette characterized Latinos as “the fastest-growing consumer segment where we see white space for an apparel and accessory brand that really addresses the more mature Latino customer. We don’t see a brand in our portfolio that really addresses her directly. We do an awful lot of research on our customers and we know this customer will spend more on her clothes. She has a higher spend threshold” than other demographics.
According to Martine Reardon, Macy’s chief marketing officer who cited the 16 percent figure, soon Latino traffic in Macy’s will represent 20 percent of the total. While the company has to a degree neglected the segment, it’s not as if Latinas are browsing without purchasing. As Reardon said, “She shops brands in our stores. But they may not be 100 percent to her liking.”