A sophisticated backdrop for Couture Couture

With a new flagship prototype; 17 recently signed retail leases, including four here, and its first global advertising campaign in the works, Juicy Couture is gunning for the $1 billion mark.

NEW YORK — With a new flagship prototype; 17 recently signed retail leases, including four here, and its first global advertising campaign in the works, Juicy Couture is gunning for the $1 billion mark.

“It’s just shy of being halfway there,” said Trudy Sullivan, executive vice president of Liz Claiborne, which bought Juicy Couture in 2003. To illustrate the brand’s potential, Sullivan pointed out that it reached its current level with selective wholesale distribution and just 17 freestanding stores.

“Brands like Juicy could go well in excess of 250 to 300 stores,” she said. “There’s no end to the opportunities. We’re building a global house of fashion. Once you add up all the categories and channels, you can believe it.”

To reach the $1 billion grail, Juicy’s founders, Pamela Skaist-Levy and Gela Nash-Taylor, must continue cranking out new product categories, tap many more retail markets and increase the productivity of wholesale accounts. Sullivan said she doesn’t want to significantly expand wholesale distribution because it could damage the brand’s cachet.

“We have a $1 billion-plus opportunity,” Sullivan said. “It’s going to mean that we go down all roads. You don’t grow Juicy by being dedicated to one channel of distribution or one product classification. You continue at a very aggressive rate. We’re trying to execute ideas as quickly as possible. We’re at full court press.”

Skaist-Levy and Nash-Taylor are slapping the Juicy crest on a fragrance, watches and a Juicy baby collection, all bowing later this year. They also plan to do a cosmetics line, Nash-Taylor said. Home products are the next big opportunity. Bedding will come first, merchandised in new stores with beds hanging from the ceiling dressed in Juicy sheets, pillows and comforters.

A new flagship prototype will bow in Tokyo later this month. It will be refined further, then applied to a 3,900-square-foot flagship opening in August at 105 Grand Street in San Francisco. “San Francisco will be our first store in the U.S. with all the different worlds of Juicy,” Nash-Taylor said. “We’ll have these huge crystal pink awnings and big, huge pink shopping bags.”

Inside, in addition to Juicy’s signature girly girl style, there will be a mix of antique and modern elements, such as reproduction 18th-century French settees, and LCD screens and neon signage. Juicy graphics and slogans such as “Love P&G” and “Wake Up and Smell the Couture” will be etched in stone or glass.

This story first appeared in the March 21, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Each product category will have its own distinct environment. Women’s wear will be bathed in a glowing pink light, men’s will be darker with references to royal heraldry and punk rock. LCD screens in the boys’ department will run loops of car chases, oversize kids’ furniture will dominate the girls’ space and Couture Couture will have a glossy black-and-cream backdrop. The store will have a permanent DJ.

Skaist-Levy and Nash-Taylor are creating special products to personalize the stores. For example, they designed chopstick and sushi charms and T-shirts that say “Viva la Juicy” in Japanese for the Tokyo flagships. The design of new stores won’t be identical, either. “We certainly don’t ever want to become a cookie-cutter chain of stores,” she said.

A flagship location has been found in Milan on Via de la Spiga and sites are being sought in London and Paris, Nash-Taylor said, adding that Juicy plans to open a flagship on Rodeo Drive next year.

Four stores are slated for here, including a unit on Fifth Avenue in the Flatiron district bowing in June, another at Madison Avenue and 70th Street opening in July and a store on Bleecker Street opening in August, said Rebecca Blair, vice president of sales and marketing for Juicy. The company has signed another lease here, but declined to reveal the location.

Retail space also has been secured in Atlantic City, N.J.; Boston; Scottsdale, Ariz.; Malibu, Newport Beach and Santa Barbara, Calif.; Orlando and Coral Gables, Fla.; San Antonio; Oyster Bay, N.Y., and the Ala Moana and Royal Hawaiian shopping centers in Waikiki. In addition, a second site in San Francisco has been selected, Blair said.

Until now, Juicy Couture’s marketing program has consisted of editorial fashion credits and images in the media of celebrities wearing the label. The company wants to take brand awareness to the next level and has hired Laird & Partners to develop a new global advertising campaign. “Juicy has been all about product placement,” said Sullivan. “This is the first major international campaign.”

For the first time, Juicy will spin off certain product categories into freestanding stores, which Nash-Taylor views as another growth strategy. “There’s definitely going to be small accessories shops,” she said. “Eventually, we’ll look at our stores that don’t carry men’s and make sure we have separate stores for men’s. Kids’ could easily be a separate store. It’s all part of growing the brand. It’s really an exciting time.”

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