While retail has struggled throughout the pandemic with a slew of store closings, and consumers increasingly turned to the web for their discretionary needs, several names in the apparel space are moving ahead with new store openings and expansion plans.
The forte of these chains ranges from casual lifestyle to special occasion to activewear. In some cases, the brands and retailers are taking the opportunity of a “return to normal” to expand their footprint to new locales.
After a soft launch on Oct. 8, Fabletics opened its first European store Friday with a new location in Berlin, bringing its global brick-and-mortar footprint to 69.
According to Gerrit Müller, managing director of Fabletics in Europe, the “vibe, the energy and the pulse” of Germany’s capital city aligns with the activewear brand’s growing customer base.
“Athleisure has become an integral part of the clothing culture around the world. But Berlin has always been a pioneer of this trend,” Müller said. “It’s just as likely to see a pair of our Define High-Waist Legging on the street as a pair of jeans. All this and the fact that the European headquarter of Fabletics is also here in Kreuzberg make Berlin an ideal place to kick off our European retail activities.”
The size-inclusive active brand actress Kate Hudson co-founded in 2013 brings its trademark OmniSuite technology into the new Berlin outpost. Shoppers will encounter the connected online-offline experience that’s become the hallmark of Fabletics’s physical retail. Customers trying on garments inside a fitting room, for example, can use iPads to request different sizes or colors, browse inventory, and access styling tips. Touchscreens with a simple style quiz are placed throughout the store to help consumers decide which styles best suit their needs and preferences. Staff using iPod-based POS systems linked to Omnisuite can help customers find stock not available in store on the Fabletics e-commerce site and have items shipped to the shopper’s preferred address.
Reportedly planning to go public, the TechStyle Fashion Group-owned label recently expanded beyond activewear into what was perhaps the pandemic’s hottest category: loungewear. It’s also “actively pursuing” its first foray into livestream shopping, which could “probably” come as soon as the holiday season, according to COO Meera Bhatia.
What form that takes, however, remains to be seen. “I think live shopping can mean so many things,” she said. “It could be taking our retail associates who are running events in their stores already and setting them live, or it could be something more orchestrated.”
Delta Apparel Inc., a provider of core activewear and lifestyle apparel products, announces five new owned-retail store openings for Salt Life, its beach lifestyle brand.
Salt Life storefronts in Florida, South Carolina and Alabama are expected to open early next year to meet the continued strong demand for the brand in coastal communities and beyond, Delta said. These strategic additions follow years of strong growth across the U.S. and provide opportunities to deepen Salt Life’s footprint in key markets, expanding the brand’s reach to a broader set of consumers who embrace the ocean lifestyle.
“Engaging face-to-face with Salt Life consumers is monumental in igniting a passion for the ocean lifestyle,” Jeff Stillwell, president of Salt Life, said. “The success of our existing storefronts has propelled our retail efforts forward and we are thrilled to continue meeting both new and existing customers in Florida, South Carolina and Alabama.”
New doors in Ft. Lauderdale, Boca Raton and Sarasota, Fla.; Hilton Head, S.C., and Foley, Ala., will add to the brand’s nationwide owned-retail footprint. Earlier this year, Salt Life announced new store openings in Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Texas City, Tex. The Myrtle Beach location opened in September with strong initial results and the Texas City location is set to open in November, Delta noted.
“Year after year, Salt Life retail stores consistently exceed sales and operating performance targets,” Delta Apparel chairman and CEO Robert W. Humphreys said.
Salt Life offers omnichannel consumer engagement though its YouTube channel, Instagram, Facebook, in-store activations and The Daily Salt content portal, which includes the newly launched “Above & Below: a Salt Life Podcast” and the Charter Captains Directory. Salt Life products are available to consumers at saltlife.com and in surf shops, specialty stores, department stores and sporting goods retailers, as well as at Salt Life’s various branded retail stores.
Original Penguin by Munsingwear
Original Penguin by Munsingwear, a division of Perry Ellis International, announced a partnership agreement with Aste Group to relaunch the brand in the Brazilian market this Spring.
Original Penguin will grant the rights to Aste Group to handle the brand’s distribution and licensing in Brazil, focusing on lifestyle products, as well as performance categories including golf, tennis and pickleball. The opportunity is part of a strategic plan developed for Latin America, including an expansion of Original Penguin brick and mortar stores, wholesale accounts and e-commerce.
“We are excited to expand our global distribution in the largest South American country with such a prominent retail partner, Aste Group,” Oscar Feldenkreis, president and CEO of Perry Ellis International, said. “This initiative represents the evolution of an authentic American lifestyle heritage brand appealing to a new diverse consumer.”
Aste currently manages and works with other major brands in Brazil, including Kipling, New Balance, Diesel, Coach, Ugg, Caterpillar, Jansport and Allbags.
“We honestly believe in the power of true connections and identification, and this partnership just reinforces our common values and strong belief in the potential of the Brazilian lifestyle market,” Felipe Ernani, Aste Group vice president, said.
Allbirds, a certified B Corp that believes in making shoes and apparel in a better way, has opened a two new stores and community center in Oakbrook, Ill., and in Cambridge, Mass. on 29 Brattle Street. The openings mark the brand’s second stores in the Chicago and Boston areas.
The 2,892-square-foot spaces speak to the brands’ sustainable focus, which has driven its development and use of natural materials in replacement of synthetic fibers. Displays around the shop call attention to the merino wool, sugarcane, tree and other materials from which its products are made.
Customers can see the carbon footprint of each product clearly displayed–a hallmark of Allbirds’ approach to sustainability. At the Illinois store, localized touches tie back to the surrounding community. Consumers will find Oakbrook Black Crowned Night Heron shoe laces, a unique pin design inspired by The Field Museum of Natural History and limited-edition Allbirds Oakbrook reusable tote bags.
Windsor Fashions, a fashion retailer for special occasions and events, announced plans to open an additional 28 stores by the end of this year, bringing its total store footprint to 294 stores by year’s end. The company also expects to open approximately 35 new stores in 2022.
“With events and celebrations coming back in full force, we continue to see extremely strong demand across all of our shopping channels and remain confident in the future of brick and mortar as a cornerstone of our business, which is enhanced by our e-commerce and omnichannel offerings,” Windsor CEO Leon Zekaria said. “We’re particularly excited to expand our retail footprint with accelerated store openings to meet more customer’s fashion needs for any occasion at an extraordinary value where and when they choose to shop.”
Windsor offers more than 200 new styles in stores and online every week, inspired by the hottest looks from the red carpet, club scene and celebrity street style. While best known for its formal dresses, Windsor delivers a broad assortment of occasion-based apparel that varies by market for special, annual and everyday events.
From a flowy jumpsuit for a weekend getaway, a maxi dress for Sunday brunch or a crop top for a beach day to a drape-back satin gown for Homecoming and even a vegan leather skirt for the perfect Wonder Woman Halloween costume, Windsor has a varied fashion assortment.
“Dressing up for special occasions and life’s many events is the essence of the Windsor brand,” Andy Solomon, president of Windsor, said. “Our customers shop our uniquely stocked stores and windsorstore.com to outfit all of the celebrations and everyday events that fill their lives. We are highly engaged with our customers through in-store interactions, extensive digital marketing and our broad social media footprint that’s amplified through our influencer and ambassador program.”
Lifestyle chain Miniso is opening new stores in the U.S. and Canada, doubling its retail locations and adding a flagship store in the Flushing section of Queens, N.Y.
With 53 locations in the U.S. and 55 in Canada by the end of 2021, Miniso is focused on the $10 price point in North America. This is the first time the brand has opened stores on the U.S. East Coast.
Within all of its stores, Miniso will be introducing a new concept “10 N’ Under” with the tagline “Within Ten Beyond Trend.” Miniso arrived in the U.S. in April 2017 with openings in the West Coast markets.
The rapidly expanding retailer is known for a variety of product categories, including plush toys, home décor and organizers, beauty and wellness, fashion accessories and electronics. The company has more than 4,500 stores in 90 countries.
Ross Stores recently opened the doors to 18 Ross Dress for Less and 10 dd’s DISCOUNTS stores in 15 different states in September and October, finalizing the company’s slate of 65 new stores for fiscal 2021.
“This fall, we continued to expand our Ross and dd’s footprints across our existing markets as well as in our newer states. In addition to openings in California, Florida, and Texas, Ross strengthened its presence in Nebraska and Ohio while dd’s bolstered its store base in Illinois,” said Gregg McGillis, the retailer’s group executive vice president of property development. “Looking ahead, we remain confident in our expansion plans and continue to see plenty of opportunity to grow to at least 2,400 Ross Dress for Less and 600 dd’s DISCOUNTS locations over time.”