NEW YORK — Lane Bryant is coming home for its 100th anniversary.
The retailer, a division of Charming Shoppes Inc., is preparing to cut the ribbon on a signature store at 7 West 34th Street on Thursday.
Manhattan has been without a store under the Lane Bryant nameplate for about 10 years. The brand began in New York in 1904 when the founder, Lena Bryant, opened a maternity shop on Fifth Avenue between 119th and 120th Streets. The name was changed to Lane Bryant because of a typographical mistake on the bank loan.
While Manhattan has been without a Lane Bryant unit, 19 of the chain’s 712 doors are in the metropolitan area. Foot traffic on 34th Street is expected to help the store outperform the rest of the chain. It is projected to produce gross sales of $873 per square foot, compared with the chain average of $210, according to a company spokeswoman. The estimate would give the 34th Street unit $4.2 million in annual sales.
Lane Bryant sales increased 6.3 percent to $251 million for the fourth quarter ended Jan. 31, with same-store sales gaining 1 percent.
“This couldn’t come at a better time,” said Lorna Nagler, president of the chain. “At Lane Bryant, although it is the most recognized name in the plus-size category, we think we represent more than size. We represent fashion.”
Lane Bryant focuses on three product areas: casual, wear-to-work and intimate apparel, in sizes 14 to 28 and from $19.50 to $89.50.
The 34th Street store is not a prototype, though it will include some fresh elements, such as new mannequins that are a size 14 and strike poses with fashion attitude. The store will also be used, along with about a dozen others and the Lane Bryant Web site, to test new merchandise.
Most of it will focus on the career area and will be separated from the core offerings by differences in fabric and color palette. The looks, such as brightly colored separates in stretch piqué that can be dressed up or down, and suits in hot pink, yellow and lime green, could eventually be rolled out to other doors.
“We think there’s a significant opportunity to expand what we’re calling our 34th Street collection,” Nagler said. There has “not yet” been a decision to commit to a proper collection, she said.
The new store also stands out, since about 80 percent of Lane Bryant units are in malls. Given the tepid rate of new mall development, many of the new Lane Bryant stores may be outside malls. Overall, the retailer sees the potential to grow to more than 900 doors.