When Fashion Met Style…Spin-Off Stores

Over the past few years, there has been a discouraging rash of mall vacancies and closings, as traditional department stores and retail chains have had to close shop, lick their wounds, and get back to the drawing board in hopes of reviving their brand names and regaining a foothold within the retail market. What truly boggles the mind about these unexpected closings is the fact that these traditional retailers at one time held massive influence over their consumers as if they were the shepherds of fashion. To the shock of these fashion shepherds, the sheep have revolted at the thought of being relegated to the den of finite, standardized fashion, replete with homogenous items. Retailers’ aversion to broader merchandise mix - due to a fear of rocking the boat and missing projected revenues - has proven to be economically fatal causing consumers to look elsewhere in their quest to be stylish, and, not trendy.

Traditional department stores and retail stores are often afraid to go against the grain and take chances – an approach that is driven by risk-aversion and limited retail space. Rather than setting the trend, many retailers have decided to follow the mainstream – a strategy that has precipitated decreased sales and apathy among consumers. Today, the consumer can access the world of fashion in mere seconds given the power of e-commerce and social applications. These new search tools have exposed the consumer to different styles, fits and accessories that go way beyond the mainstream options of department stores and big-box retailers. With their backs up against the wall, traditional retailers have taken a page out of the e-retailers’ playbook and, finally, espoused the tenet that personalization is at the heart of style and retail.

Contrary to the adage that you can only make one first impression, traditional retailers have reinvented themselves through spin-off stores prompting consumers to give these traditional retailers another try. The spin-off store concept has gained quite a bit of traction among traditional retailers looking to expand their consumer base, revive their fledgling brand names, and kick the door open to once unrealizable markets. A spin-off store offers merchandise that goes above and beyond the merchandise mix at the flagship store since the mix of merchandise acutely takes into consideration the consumers’ tastes, interests, and environment (be it, a hipster haven in Williamsburg or a teeny-bop goldmine in Los Angeles). Traditional retailers have designed these spin-off stores with a keen eye on social demographics and certain trends, and have even gone so far as to bring in celebrity ambassadors or up and coming designers to further energize the brand name. However, the true beauty of spin-off stores is the combination of quality and choice under one roof that provides a unique and personal experience to consumers, which makes consumers not only feel closer to the brand but also part of a “fashion movement”.

Given the fact that retail growth largely depends on innovation and leveraging social data to create unique products based upon consumers’ broad tastes, a spin-off store could be a viable option for any traditional retailer looking to regain traction in the retail market. With a sales model that places consumers’ interests and tastes above all else, spin-off stores could certainly prove to be the next big thing in the retail industry. As the revered Oscar de la Renta once said, “fashion is about dressing according to what’s fashionable, style is more about yourself.” Spin-off stores embody the essence of Oscar de la Renta’s message by finally daring to be different and authentic.

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