LONDON — British retailer John Lewis is ramping up the fashion quotient for spring, with a focus on contemporary brands for men and women. Central to its strategy is a new denim boutique called Denim Wardrobe that will launch at John Lewis’ Sloane Square unit on Jan. 28.
The boutique is a partnership with the denim and contemporary retailer Trilogy, which has built a reputation on advising customers on the myriad fits and washes available in premium denim.
The Denim Wardrobe concession will carry labels such as J Brand, AG and DL 1961, and be operated by John Lewis staff trained by Trilogy’s denim specialists.
“The way that our customers are beginning to wear premium denim is much more flexible and much more wide reaching than it used to be,” said Ed Connolly, buying director for fashion at John Lewis. “We really think this boutique is going to resonate with our customer base very strongly.”
He said John Lewis wanted to work with Trilogy on account of its “inspirational” merchandising and product assortment, and the boutique’s focus on service.
“If you’re going to ask double the price for a pair of jeans…part of that equation is the premium service offer,” said Connolly. “It’s the personal styling that makes premium denim successful.”
Connolly said he expects the new boutique to cater to John Lewis’ existing “loyal customer base” and attract a whole tranche of new customers. “I think it will attract a much more fashion forward shopper…I don’t think it’s about age, it’s about attitude,” said Connolly.
Alongside the denim labels, new contemporary brands including Joie, Graham & Spencer, Vilagallo and Pyrus will launch at the Sloane Square store. Denim Wardrobe will also have a dedicated area on John Lewis’ Web site.
Connolly has also set about boosting the range of contemporary labels on John Lewis’ men’s and women’s floors. Among the men’s labels that have launched over the last six months are Barbour Greatcoat and Barbour Laundryman, Bellerose, Eleven Paris, Soulland and Wood Wood.
For women, contemporary labels currently at the store include Phase Eight, Whistles, Hobbs, Mint Velvet and Somerset by Alice Temperley, the latter of which is a collaboration with John Lewis.
Since putting a fresh focus on contemporary labels, Connolly said that John Lewis’ men’s and women’s departments have seen “double digit growth” over the past six months.
“If you look at the wider market, you might see growth of 1 and 2 percent in both of those markets across the industry, so we know that it’s having a strong resonance with our consumers,” said Connolly.
The men’s contemporary brands have launched at around 15 John Lewis stores across the retailer’s 43-strong portfolio, with Connolly noting that the retailer plans to launch the Denim Wardrobe concept and contemporary labels at more stores.
“We’ve got to test how successful it’s going to be….but I think we’re going to want to roll it out as fast as we reasonably can,” he said.