Ali & Jay will make its first push into retail next month and it’s doing things a little differently.
In July it tests brick-and-mortar with a marketplace concept pop-up at the Malibu Lumber Yard. The door remains open until October and comes ahead of a permanent store opening next spring at what chief executive officer Chris Tate described as a “Triple A shopping center here in L.A. that’s under renovation.”
The dress brand is part of The Bailey Group, which also owns the Bailey44, Superfine and Fine by Superfine labels, and was quietly launched in the spring in a bid to fill what Tate said is a gap in the market for entry-level contemporary brands.
“I think there’s such a compression that’s happening right now between fast-fashion and traditional contemporary [lines],” he said. “And traditional contemporary has had to do so much of its business on promotion that really, at the end of the day, we wanted to build a line that was sitting in the sweet spot of where consumers were shopping from a retail price point standpoint.”
The line ranges from $98 to $158 and is already in about 100 doors nationally, including Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s and Shopbop.
It’s sister brand Bailey44 will follow in similar retail footsteps with a Malibu Lumber Yard pop-up, next door to Ali & Jay, and a permanent store at the same center. Bailey44 also expects to unveil its flagship door at the Newport Beach, Calif., marina redevelopment project Lido Marina Village on Thursday.
Ali & Jay’s taking a multibrand philosophy to its 800-square-foot space in Malibu, bringing in complementary product from other companies in the way of jewelry and other accessories, food, candy, a braid bar and makeup.
“People shop differently now. They don’t necessarily want to wear a singular brand head to toe,” Tate said. “They like to mix things up. We’re more interested in creating a marketplace experience. It feels authentic and the way that Millennials shop.”
The outside brands that will be offered in store, of which there are between six and eight, will be rotated in and out over the course of the summer, with an emphasis on highlighting other L.A. brands.
It’s “boutique meets lounge meets marketplace,” explained Melanie Bender, vice president of marketing at The Bailey Group. “[Customers] appreciate the functionality of being able to shop and experience things all in one place.”
The multibrand store format is likely something that will be carried into the permanent doors for Ali & Jay moving forward.
“This was an opportunity for us, not only in Malibu, to explore the marketplace concept long-term,” Tate said. “We believe that the future of retail has to have a lot more dimensionality to it rather than just single, monobranded stores.”
With retail growth top of mind, the question of whether the Ali & Jay brand could grow up to be more than a dress line is something that isn’t necessarily being ruled out, but the wardrobe item is at the core of the brand, Tate said. It’s also a key part of building out the wholesale business by filling what company executives see as a gap in the market.
“Selling a dress is selling a complete look and we’re building a brand that’s based on someone’s total look [in a space] where we also felt like there was not a lot of great offerings in these traditional dress departments inside these department stores that have been struggling for years and years, and I think that’s just because the product is not as relevant to the consumer today,” Tate said.