Friday, June 6, 2008

Rugby Shorts Make The Grade

Men's shorts sure didn't change much in the 90's. Cargo shorts in khaki, cinnamon, brown, green and camo became the golden standard, and summer after summer, nobody seemed to come forward with a successor. Over the past few summers, J Crew and Brooks Brothers brought us preppy innovations: more traditional Bermuda shorts with repeating preppy symbols such as ship anchors, sailboats, and swordfish:

Once the cut was popularized, seersucker and love-it-or-hate-it Madras patchwork took the stage:

A great piece of innovation, though, is coming out of Rugby: the same preppy repeat-patterns done in waterproof fabric for swimwear (as evidenced by the blue pair on top):

What's the next men's shorts innovation?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Retail Holding Up

Bloomberg just chimed in on retail earnings, noting that J.C. Penney, Kohl's, and Nordstrom beat analyst profit estimates.

The retailers accomplished the feat by "
clamp[ing] down on inventory, operating costs and store growth". Same store sales declined at all three retailers.

Macy's is the only retailer so far to report a net loss, due to consolidation costs.

Just something to chew on for those mulling retail right now...

J.C. Penny, Kohl's, Nordstrom Profit Beat Estimates - Bloomberg

Monday, April 28, 2008

Seriously?: Brooks Brothers Edition

The Brooks Brothers cotton plaid madras suit, presented without comment. Please do give us yours, however.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Lululemon Packs Its Bags

Lululemon (NASDAQ: LULU, TSX:LLL), the Vancouver-based yoga-wear retailer reported earnings today and announced some surprising news: they're shutting the doors of their Japanese stores. Their first store opened in Japan in 2005 and operated through a joint venture with Japanese apparel company, Descente, Ltd. There are currently 4 stores, which will be shuttered before the end of the second quarter. Lulu CEO Robert Meers has filled us in on the reasons, noting that Japan represents less than 1.5% of revenues, yet "[takes up] a disproportionate amount of management time/attention" to warrant its existence. Lulu management is going to continue on with their strong US expansion, and they're rolling out their e-commerce platform, which they have high hopes for. Lululemon plans on opening 35 stores in the US next year.

Also of note, Lulu's sales more than doubled in the last 14 months due to strong same-store sales and a healthy addition of new stores in North America. Margins inched higher, to 54.1% from 51.4 a year ago.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Children's Apparel: No longer just for young ones

As recession fears draw near, fashion weeks all over the world have looked to children's clothing for more inspiration. Today we salute you, Mr. stay-at-home father who apparently has spent hours teeming over the newest issues of Men's Vogue, Details, and GQ to find the hottest summer trends. Industry sources apparently are in the process of designing full S/S '09 lines of baby-inspired couture including bibs, booties and pacifiers. V.F. Corp's Mackey J. McDonald announced yesterday that they are integrating these emerging trends.

J.C. Penny Cuts Economic Outlook

Some unsurprising news today, apparently J.C. Penny (NYSE:JCP) CEO Mike Ullman is predicting a slowdown in the retail sector due to the recent economic downturn.

"J.C. Penney Co. Inc.'s slashing of its first-quarter profit projections by a third after a disappointing Easter could be a warning for the overall retail sector that the proverbial wall is just ahead. While retailers have been dancing around the impact of the economic slowdown for the last few months, evidence is mounting that the second half might not be pretty." -WWD
It must be an easy job running a crappy department store chain (see futile attempt American Living) and blaming the store's inadequate measures to join us in the 21st century solely on macroeconomic events... I think your product buyers and brand strategists belong in the proverbial 'fail' dumpster directly up against that proverbial economic wall.
"Consumer confidence is at a multiyear low... J.C. Penney counts half of American families as its customers and they are feeling macroeconomic pressures from many areas, including higher energy costs, deteriorating employment trends and significant issues in the housing and credit markets." JC Penny's CEO Mike Ullman
Keep on trucking J.C. Penny, we are always amazed by your utter incompetence and and inability to run a successful, modern retail firm.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Inditex Announces New Brand, Global Expansion

Grupo Inditex (Euronext MC: ITX), the maker of Zara, has just announced a slew of things at an analyst conference today, including plans to launch an accessories brand to be called Uterqüe. The brand is to sell bags, shoes, sunglasses and scarves, and the company is planning on having 20 to 30 of the shops open by year-end.

Also of note was the news that Zara stores will be opening up at a faster clip throughout Asia (Inditex already has some stores in Japan and China). Seoul's first Zara location will open in April, with at least four more openings planned in the city before year-end. These openings come as the company is busy rolling out heaps of new stores in Italy, France, Russia, and eastern Europe.

So, when is Inditex going to start seeing problems from over-saturation? Or is Inditex immune because they have so many brands?

It would serve Inditex's management to take a good look at what happened to Ford and General Motors. In the 80's and 90's, both sported portfolios of profitable brands whose products became more and more alike. Those brands began poaching sales from one-another, and in the end, GM axed their underperforming Oldsmobile marque. Both companies soldiered on with portfolios of less-than-original nameplates and continue to lose market share to their more concentrated Japanese/German rivals to this day.

Inditex has got to continue to ensure that their brands are distinct from one-another in order to safeguard their relevance in the marketplace.

Inditex abrirá entre 20 y 30 tiendas de complementos en el segundo semestre de 2008