Retail Industry: Fast-Fashion and Department Stores Joining Forces

Retail Industry: Fast-Fashion and Department Stores Joining Forces

JCPenney’s was the first one who started selling “MNG Mango” line in their stores. Simultaneously, the examples increased and others followed this trend. Macy’s has turned to a pop icon to head its fast-fashion debut. The retailer launched the juniors apparel “Material Girl” line, designed by Madonna and her 14-year-old daughter Lourdes, for the back-to-school season in 200 doors. After that, Sears, which is another department store based in the USA pushed fast-fashion to build some style credibility. “Now+Here” line started during the back-to-school season, a fast-fashion destination for juniors and young men in a bid to offer “must-haves,” trendy apparel for younger shoppers. Sears also signed a long-term lease with hot fast-fashion chain Forever 21, which took up 43,000 square feet of its retail store.

Given the fact that this project worked out successfully, JCPenney’s announced also this year to offer Canadian fast-fashion label Joe Fresh in stores next spring as part of its plan to introduce more store within stores at its department store locations.

I believe, this process may seem slow at first, but for sure it works. In addition, these department stores are mid-priced and their sales have been declining during the last years. Due to the fact that there is a high demand for fast-fashion, they had no choice but push these fast-fashion lines. Moreover, there are other factors which caused this attempt; the global economy has sped up the fashion cycle, transporting trends from Europe and around the world to the masses and fast-fashion fashion brands are getting rateful results. Honestly, the department stores saw this solution as a life saver, they tested the public first and now saw that it’s working out, they are continuing to offer more fast-fashion lines.

In addition, this plan is beneficial for both of the store itself and the line. First of all, MNG line is a lot more upscale for JCPenney’s, because JCPenney’s clothes tend to be very conservative. That’s why people who don’t normally go to department stores are automatically starting to go and buy from there. So, their customer base is changing and increasing, for sure. Before, it was too middle-aged but now the store has a younger customer base. For Mango also, it’s a chance to quickly expand its U.S. presence, where the brand has less than a dozen boutiques. It’s also part of a broader move by Macy’s, JCPenney’s and other department-store chains to jump-start sales by countering the stereotype of the conservative department store. Likewise JCPenny’s, with “Material Girl” line Macy’s has also changed its customer core to more younger ones. However, the prices are not the same like we buy from the fast-fashion store. For example, JCPenney’s is stimulating the MNG line according to its price core, so the range is becoming mid-priced. The style is also changing coherently to JCPenney’s image which is more career based and less clubwear apparel.

Meanwhile, seeing these changes in USA retail market, Asian market got the big picture and immediately, Tokyo’s Ginza district, the Matsuzakaya department store has leased parts of the first five of its floors to Forever 21, totalling about 4000 square metres.

Undoubtedly, retailers and shopping centre operators everywhere should watch and take note here. In effect, what these department stores have done is a confession that their most feared competitors which are fast fashion retailers such as Zara, Forever 21 and H&M are better at drawing traffic and generating sales than they are. I would like to add that if in other countries, the department stores follow this strategy, shopping centre owners could also benefit from this young and strong traffic coming into stores which brings higher productivity. Joining the forces suggests that the growth of fast-fashion shouldn’t be threatening any more. To conclude, “if you can’t beat them, join them”!