Enter “fast-fashion” lines at department stores, an effort that hopes to put an end to the encroachment of the fast-fashion chains, which are now ramping up mall expansion and outperforming much of the retail sector by interpreting high-end lines for less, and delivering fresh product on an almost daily basis.
The global economy has sped up the fashion cycle, transporting trends from Europe and around the world to the masses at a breakneck pace, said Amy Noblin, a senior analyst with Weeden & Co. The specialty chains have tapped into that democratization of fashion, and the public has been eating it up.
“It’s clearly what the customer is voting for,” Noblin said.
Now, the department stores want a piece of the action.
“It’s a huge, $30 billion business,” said Elizabeth Sweeney, senior general merchandise manager of apparel for JCPenney, who called Mango a “game changer” for the retailer.
But department stores must adjust to meet the demands of fast-fashion retailing, a quick-paced product design and sourcing model alien to the sector.
“There is definitely a learning curve for the department stores,” Noblin said. “Their business has not been run that way.”
For a department store that opts to source these lines in-house, the risks are higher, but so are the potential profit margins, Noblin said.
JCPenney is leaving that expertise to Mango, a Barcelona-based brand with 1,300 stores worldwide, Sweeney said.
Still, JCPenney will need to adjust. New career and casual sportswear under the "MNG by Mango" labelwill reach JCPenney’s stores every 10 days, versus the monthly shipments the retailer receives for its other goods.
With this line, JCPenney hopes to woo shoppers between 18 and 35 years old, who want affordable looks “from the runway to the realway,” she said.
But unlike some fast-fashion lines, the collection is not “disposable” fashion, but reflects JCPenney’s high-quality standards, Sweeney said.
The retailer has big plans for Mango, which is featured in dedicated in-store shops in 77 JCPenney stores, will expand to 225 by February, then to 600 stores by Fall 2011.