A fashion and lifestyle magazine and blog produced by Students in the Design and Merchandising program at Drexel University

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Macy's Backstage

The new trend in several of the major department stores has been creating an off-price retailer under their name.  Macy’s has recently taken the opportunity to hop on the bandwagon with the announcement of opening four off-price stores in the New York area in the fall.  The new Macy’s chain will be called Macy’s Backstage and they feel as though they will succeed because they already have been operating the Bloomingdale’s outlet stores. 

Macy’s said that turning to an off-price store would be inevitable because their in-store sales has been on a decline and their competitors are becoming Nordstrom Rack, Saks Off Fifth and even TJ Maxx.  Macy’s believes that opening in the New York area is a good move for them because they already have a strong presence and know the demographic.  A Business Professor at Columbia University comments that “Macy’s may have as many as a couple hundred stores that they ultimately have to close, that have increasingly lost their productivity.  The C and D mall are increasingly problematic.”  He also commented on the possibility of turning some of their struggling stores into off- price in the hopes that it will bring business back up.  

The very first Macy’s Backstage stores are set to open in Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn, Queens Place in Queens and New Hyde Park and Huntington both located on Long Island.  The average store size will be around 30,000 square feet, a size that will qualify Macy’s for many locations.  These stores will sell women’s, men’s, children’s, shoes, accessories, houseware, home textiles, intimate apparel and jewelry.  Other features of Macy’s Backstage will be free Wi-Fi and a café.  Macy’s plans to sell merchandise that are clearance in regular Macy’s stores as well as have some special buys from certain brands and the merchandise well sell anywhere from a 20-80 percent discount.  Macy’s believes that going off-price will significantly drive and improve sales.

Monday, May 11, 2015

What's Your Story?

Everyone has a story to tell. As if Instagram, Tumblr, and Twitter weren’t enough, companies are looking for new online outlets to engage customers on a personal level. Meet Stellar: an application that gives users the opportunity to create, explore, follow and share multi-page stories using photos, videos, and text. Stellar has quickly become an outlet for brands to extend their message. Companies like Urban Outfitters are using this platform to share look books, recipes, and campaigns.

With the influx of social media, companies are doing everything they can to keep their brand image cohesive across all platforms. This poses a challenge for brands to keep their story consistent. It also allows them to be more creative, encouraging more image-based content. Applications like Stellar and Instagram convey the image of the brand while allowing a personalized user experience.

Users have become significantly more attracted to social outlets that engage them on a personal level. As Ken Downings’ addressed in his speech, brands have to make customers desire the product. Without desire, it is just clothes. In order to create this endless thirst, social platforms have to speak the language of their target customer. One way companies aimed to achieve this is through blogging. Blogging has become an extension of a brand. This allows them to express their story beyond images or 150 characters on Twitter. Regardless, our generation is naturally inclined to use applications due to its ease of use. But with the invention of Stellar, the user and brand will get exactly what they want. The user gets more ease, while the brand gains more traction and engagement.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Style That's 100

On Tuesday, Time hosted their annual TIME 100 Gala at the Lincoln Center in New York City; in which they select and honor 100 of the most influential people in the United States. These aren't just people who volunteer their time to help others or head a local/national/global nonprofit. In fact, there are many celebrity honorees among these individuals who measured up to Time's standard of changing the world despite possible consequence. Here were a few of the impressively styled guest and honorees.
Dior and Em: Emma Watson in Dior (pay attention, because the film “Dior and I” featuring Raf Simons will be screening this weekend. Be sure to check it out here!)
The Power of Three: Lavern Cox looking stunning in her dress by Marc Bouwer // Kim Kardashian working a dress by Sophie Theallet // Naomi Campbell looking no less than fabulous in Jean Paul Gaultier
Vibrancy of Red: Diane von Furstenberg in her own design // Julianne Moore rocking a dress by Givenchy 
 So Perfect It Could Be A Sin: Kenza Fourati clearly also belongs in Style 100 as she captivates the cameras in a suit by The Row // Karlie Kloss gorgeously representing Alexander Wang

Catch the rest of the inspiring moments here

Monday, April 20, 2015

Social Commerce & Digital Malls

What are retailers concerned with? Two things: 1. Reaching the millennials 2. Mobile conversion

How do you do that? Social Commerce

What is Social Commerce? It is a subset of electronic commerce, involving social media networks to assist in online buying and selling of products in services.

Do you mean like shopping from Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram? No, they simply were not designed to be shopping platforms. Deena Varshavskaya, founder of social commerce shopping platform, Wanelo, says “We don’t go to there to shop.” She claims “If a user stumbled upon a desired item on Pinterest, for example, it’s hard to find if the product is in stock, if the store has it in their size and if it’s on sale.”

What is Wanelo? Think of Wanelo (“wah-nee-loh,” short for Want, Need, Love) as a digital mall, where people can curate, discover, and buy products on the internet. Wanelo has over 12 million products from over 350,000 stores, including independent boutiques and sellers you have never heard of.

Digital Malls vs. Regular Malls?
  • A regular mall has only 150 stores, while the number of online stores is endless.
  • In the Nineties, consumers visited malls about two times a month for about four hours at a time, driving $1 trillion in sales (Strugatz)
  • Today, 15% of malls are expected to shut down over the next decade (Strugatz)
  • 87% of Millennials never leave their phones and can spend up to three hours on social networks every day. One third of them don’t frequent malls, 84 percent hate advertising and 50 percent shop online nearly every day for at least an hour. (Strugatz)
How does this bridge the gap between online and store? To be determined, but Nordstrom recently rolled out Wanelo wall displays in 107 doors, featuring styles it already carries that were rated most popular by Wanelo’s users.

Why Wanelo?
  • The average product on Wanelo gets 140 saves and 19 buy clicks, versus Pinterest, where a pin typically sees about 10 repins. (Strugatz)
  •  Urban Outfitters’ Wanelo shoppers convert at a rate four times greater than any other social network (the store has implemented a Wanelo button alongside other social media action buttons on product pages). (Strugatz)
  • Sephora called the platform its “fastest-growing social platform.” (Strugatz)
  •  Farfetch said Wanelo converts five times greater than Pinterest. (Strugatz)
Why is it useful for users and retailers?
  •  Users èThe content on Wanelo is user-generated and users can only post items from verified retailer sites. Therefore, users go on Wanelo to shop accurate information on product availability and pricing. 
  • Brands èA brand can claims its page and once it does this it can editorialize collections to engage with fans. Brands like Urban Outfitters have more followers on Wanelo then they do on any other social media platform.

How does Wanelo successfully solve the two concerns of retailers? 1. With over 10 million users, it has continually reached Millennials 2. The website is primarily accessed via its mobile app and conversion is also completed here

Check out my virtual store: http://wanelo.com/anaprodanovich :) 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Coming Soon: Until S oon


My co-op experience was with my life-long favorite brand, Anthropologie. The way I got my co-op is a true networking success story. In 2012, I found out that the Chief Design and Merchandising Officer of Anthropologie, Wendy Wurtzburger, would be the alumni speaker that year at my little high school in Memphis, Tennessee. At first, the connection seemed too good to be true. After multiple phone calls and email exchanges, I managed to schedule a one-on-one meeting with Wendy at URBN’s headquarters. By the time my co-op cycle rolled around, Wendy had become the Head Curator for Anthropologie and I worked on her team with two others. Three months into my co-op, Wendy left the company. The experience was like watching a monument fall, but we all knew this wasn’t the last we would see of Wendy Wurtzburger.

On March 4, 2015, Womenswear Daily published an article titled “Wendy Wurtzburger Unveils Until S oon.” The article explains that Until S oon is a high-end sweater collection that Wendy created with designer, Linda Trau, and producer, Michelle Gondolini (wwd.com). The 32-piece collection is partly inspired by ballerina dancewear and is made of luxurious materials such as cashmere and lambs wool. Wendy is quoted saying, “we wanted to create a collection that appeals to women who are culturally curious and passionate about good design” (wwd.com).  There is also an appreciation for artisan work seen in this collection. The space between the S and O in the brand’s name is meant to imply a dropped stitch or a similar imperfection that comes with handmade clothing. The name is also how Mitzi Wong, the previous Creative Director of Home at Anthropologie, signs letters. I smiled at this, as Mitzi signed her emails to me with “until soon” when we corresponded about must-see museums and boutiques while I was studying abroad.

I couldn’t have been happier reading this article about my old boss and her new project. As graduation fast approaches, I believe many of us D&M’s (myself included) feel that large corporate design and fashion brands are where we need to be. It is easy to forget about small operations, such as Until S oon, that are doing unique and exciting work. While I may want to work for a big brand name now, I see the appeal in working intimately for a small label with a different approach. This story also teaches me that hard work and vast experience can prepare someone to launch their own company. It is a difficult thing for me to imagine at this time, but who knows what could happen 25 years from now.

If you're curious, Until S oon will be in stores next fall at a price point ranging from $300 to $600. According to the article, the collection will be found in designer departments when it has its limited distribution. The complete lookbook can be found on untilsoon.nyc.

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