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Nordstrom Courts Young Women, Takes Cues from Fast Fashion

Looking to amp up its young, female customer base, upscale department store Nordstrom is taking a cue from fast fashion. Shoppers in their twenties and thirties want trendy, affordable pieces, and the high-end retailer has traditionally aimed for a slightly higher tax bracket–until now.

In the last year, Nordstrom’s “Savvy” department–the section tailored for a younger, hipper demographic–has seen a subtle, but real shift. At all 120 full-scale Nordstrom stores, buyers have contracted with edgier (and cheaper) labels like Topshop, MinkPink, and BlankNYC, and moved the high-end labels to other departments, bringing the average price of a Savvy item down to $50 from over $150.

Inspired by the success of fast fashion retailers like H&M and Forever21, there’s also been an effort to quicken turnover, refreshing inventory almost daily. Tricia Smith, general merchandise manager of women’s apparel, told the Seattle Times that in Savvy, “The product comes in at twice the rate of other departments, and we’re able to react more quickly.”

At a recent investors conference, Nordstrom CFO Mike Koppel said the changes reflect customer demand. “One of the things that we heard from our customers for a number of years is, ‘Boy, the stuff we love, we can’t afford, and the stuff we can afford, we don’t like too much,” he said. “We felt that we had an opportunity to have better product that was more accessible.”