Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Chico’s sexes it up a little


phelpsWho says people have to dress frumpy or dowdy in a recession?

Apparently not Chico’s FAS.  The mature women’s chain, which operates Chico’s, White House/Black Market and Soma Intimates chains, has made major strides in making its merchandise more fashionable in the past year, and has been rewarded with stellar results in the third quarter and shares that are up eightfold in the last year.

The move towards trendier– dare we say, sexier – clothes helped sales this autumn  rise 13.3 percent and allowed the chain to win market share while rivals such as Talbots and Clearwater Coldwater Creek continued to struggle. (A year and a half ago, U.S. gold medalist Michael Phelps’ mother Debbie boasted that her Olympics’ wardrobe at the Beijing Games came from Chico’s.)

Chico’s took advantage of Vogue editor Anna Wintour’s glamorous “Fashion Night Out” this fall to open a store in Manhattan’s SoHo district. And last year, the chain won national attention in 2008 when First Lady Michelle Obama wore a dress from a White House/Black Market store during on an appearance on the talk show “The View.”

The firm is apparently not done with its makeover: it is planning to open about 40 new locations of its lingerie chain Soma Intimates in 2010 and offer more risqué items,  Chief Executive Officer David Dyer hinted on a call to analysts on Wednesday.

from Fan Fare:

‘Practical’ black’s back at Calvin Klein

winslet3Listen up, all you Oscar fashion watchers.

Black is back in a big way because "it's practical," New York designer Francisco Costa told Reuters after his fall Calvin Klein Women's runway show at New York Fashion Week, which ended on Friday. Black is also among the "in" colors for gowns on the red carpet this year and will very likely make a major appearance at the Oscars on Sunday. Kate Winslet already has been showing a penchant for black during Hollywood's awards season.

Actress Kate Beckinsale, in a skintight black leather dress, was among thebeckinsale celebrities who packed the Calvin Klein showroom this week to see Costa's fall collection of  tailored coats and sculptured dresses. Many had asymmetrical hems. The horsehair boots and shoes featured high rectangular heels that were open in the middle.