Saks Off 5th on Thursday is introducing a stable of men’s and women’s private brands to fill the “white space” in its assortment.
“Based on our customers’ feedback, we identified an opportunity to add to our portfolio of brands, and increase our assortment of the latest fashions,” said Tom Ott, chief merchant of Saks Off 5th.
Five private brands covering clothing, footwear and accessories at “attainable price points” are being launched under the umbrella “The Next Generation.” They will be sold on the Saks Off 5th web site and in all 133 Off 5th stores.
“With the launch of The Next Generation brands and the vast assortment available, we’re able to offer our customers a differentiated range of quality fashion and styles at competitive pricing,” said Ott.
“Each brand speaks to a different need and customer base. Some are very trend-driven, others are satisfying a need for modern essentials,” added Irene Newman, head of design for the Hudson’s Bay Co., parent of Saks Off 5th. “We have spent a lot of time really analyzing our customer and her needs.”
The private brand program is geared to different lifestyles with different styles. There will be monthly deliveries to project frequent newness; a spotlight on key categories such as cashmere, cold weather accessories and suiting, and there will be an everyday low pricing scheme, rather than being loudly promotional with deepening discounts, which is typical at off-pricers. At Off 5th, the designer and contemporary labels are offered at up to 70 percent off, though the range is wide. Often, an extra percent off the already-discounted items is offered.
The new private brands are:
• Ava & Aiden, for women’s shoes and fashion jewelry for everyday wear and special occasion. “It’s trend-driven with great embellishments, standout colors and fresh silhouettes but feminine,” said Newman.
● Renvy, which is a play on the word “envy.” Renvy features contemporary women’s ready-to-wear, shoes, accessories, looks that are “effortlessly cool, confident and current, with a touch of sexiness.”
● Pure Navy, for men’s and women’s rtw and footwear. “It’s a modern, clean collection of elevated basics for men and women. It’s minimalist, refined casual workwear and everyday essentials on the mimimalist side,” Newman said.
● NHP, for men’s tailored clothing and sportswear and footwear. “NHP offers performance features and modern trends, with stretch components,” Newman said. “It’s a smart take on tailored clothing and sportswear.”
● Russell Park, for men’s sportswear and footwear. “It’s fashion-forward, contemporary, heavily street-influenced men’s wear,” Newman said.
Launching The Next Generation is the latest effort by management to turn around Saks Off 5th. The off-price chain has not performed as well as other off-pricers in recent seasons. In January, Marc Metrick, president of Saks Fifth Avenue, expanded his role to include Saks Off 5th. At the time, Metrick singled out the potential to grow Off 5th’s digital platform.
In the past, Saks Off 5th has sold private label under the Saks Fifth Avenue label, and the private brand business accounted for roughly 15 to 20 percent of total business, with suitings being a big piece. Generally, customers come to off-pricers to comb through the racks for designer merchandise at discounts, while private brands at off-pricers help fill voids in the assortment and provide bigger margins.
Online, there will be a landing page for The Next Generation, with an intro to each brand. Shoppers can click into each private brand’s assortment.
In the Saks Off 5th stores, the five private brands will be merchandised in different areas, whether it’s men’s, women’s or accessories. The Off 5th stores vary in size, therefore the amount of space given to the new private brands will vary depending on the location.
The private brands are further distinguished by the pricing. “It’s great everyday pricing,” Newman said. “Everything is under $200, with the exception of men’s suits, which will be under $300. The average price is $49 to $59.”
The private brands were developed at Hudson’s Bay Co.’s design studio at corporate headquarters in Brookfield Place in lower Manhattan. “They’ve been close to a year in the making,” said Newman.
According to Newman, it makes little difference to shoppers whether a brand is a house label or from the market. “It really doesn’t matter,” Newman said. “The brands speak for themselves.
“When developing the collections, we wanted pieces to maintain classic wearability while ensuring they felt current, and for several of the brands, trend-forward. It was important to combine stylish designs with quality fabrics and flattering fits while maintaining attainable pricing,” Newman said.