Johnny Was, the Los Angeles-based apparel brand with a bohemian bent, earlier this month opened a 2,300-square-foot store at Disney Springs in Orlando, Fla. While a handful of Disney Springs’ more than 90 retailers pushed their openings to July due to the tragic events that hit the city in mid-June, Johnny Was decided to move ahead.
Robert Trauber, the retailer’s chief executive officer, said so far the store is doing well. “Florida is an overall major strategic initiative,” he said. “It’s the third-largest market for Johnny Was, both for wholesale and e-commerce.”
The company in December unveiled a store in Palm Beach and launched a unit in Naples in May. A 1,800-square-foot store will bow at Town Center at Boca Raton on July 9. Johnny Was is looking for several stores in Miami and is also targeting Tampa.
Located in the heart of Walt Disney World in Orlando, Disney Springs is the former 120-acre Downtown Disney, reimagined as a nostalgic small Florida town from the early 1900s. Downtown Disney lacked character and the combination of stores, restaurants and clubs never gelled. Its transformation is the largest expansion in Disney history with upgrades and expansions to three existing neighborhoods: The Landing, Marketplace and West Side. Town Center is being built from scratch. The project is nearing completion, with all four neighborhoods connected by a flowing spring and lakefront.
“From a Disney perspective, they spent about $1 billion rebranding and renovating it,” Trauber said. “Walt Disney World in Orlando gets 60 million visitors a year.
“We love outdoor lifestyle centers,” he added. “Disney Springs is on target with how people want to shop going forward. We’re a higher price point [than many of the other retailers], but because of the sheer numbers, we thought it was still a great opportunity to capture a segment of the audience.
“We have to learn how to serve a wide [range] of customers at Disney Springs,” Trauber said.
With an entry price of $200, the company plans to introduce capsule collections with opening price points of $88 to $158 to balance the assortment.
Trauber is streamlining the company’s six labels, including the signature Johnny Was collection, into four brands that will launch next summer. In the meantime, the Johnny Was name will be added to existing labels. The four brands will include Johnny Was, which features floral and patchwork prints and embroidery in silk, rayon and georgette fabrics; Johnny Was Los Angeles, boyfriend shirts and other items with a West Coast vibe; Johnny Was Pink, contemporary slip tops with a touch of lace, and Johnny Was White Label, non-embroidered basics with a twist, layering pieces and a new organic cotton line.
As the Johnny Was story goes, the brand’s founder Eli Levite in the late Eighties conceptualized his fashion business at home while his children repeatedly played Bob Marley’s anthem, “Johnny was a good man.”
The Disney Springs Johnny Was features apparel, jewelry and a Signature Silk Lab where printed scarves are displayed. Also for sale: handmade ceramics and a selection of art and culture books.
In addition to Florida, California is a strong market for Johnny Was although the company is expanding nationwide. It plans to open a store at Westfield Century City in L.A. in 2017. “We have several stores opening in Dallas,” Trauber said. “Texas is our top market.” A Charlotte unit is also planned for 2017.
A store will bow at the Prudential Center in Boston in November. “It will force us to broaden our depth in fabrications,” Trauber said. “After that, we’ll look at the New York-metro market.”
“We’re evolving categories and looking at new categories like bags, weekenders and totes, and a capsule shoe collection. We’re revamping our jewelry line and adding denim and knits, which will be a big growth area.”