Primark’s Boston Store- a Retail Force to Be Reckoned With

Primark, the UK-based discount retailer opened their first US store in Boston this month. The low-cost, low margin, fast fashion retailer, is located in the 70,000 square foot, historic Filene’s department store building in Boston’s Downtown Crossing section. They have plans to open 10 more locations on the East Coast by Easter 2016.

Well designed floor sets at Primark

Well-designed floor sets at Primark

I visited the store on Saturday the 26th and found it mobbed with urban shoppers. The location is a tour-de-force for a company that targets 18-35 year old, cash-strapped Millennial demographic. The Washington Street site, of recent decades has been a decaying, retail wasteland. Surrounded by the Financial, entertainment districts and Chinatown. It is far from other residential neighborhoods, but directly across from the highly central Park Street subway stop. The daytime walkable population swells dramatically, from the Financial District and other nearby employers.

Boston is home to three major upscale shopping areas, Copley Place, Newbury and Charles Streets. Many of the world’s best retailers open test stores here, because of the many universities, large population of wealthy international students and tourists, as well as a cosmopolitan, well-heeled population. The mass customer has been grossly underserved in Boston proper, so Primark, H+M and Macy’s in Downtown Crossing offer a strong trifecta for budget-conscious customers.

Seventies items at Primark

Seventies fashion items at Primark

I’m blown away by Primark’s well-merchandised assortment, attractive floor sets, and incredibly low prices, e.g. cotton tees for five dollars, jackets for thirty-five, seven dollar jeans, trendy shoes for ten…The assortment is compelling with strong key item basics and on-trend pieces like Bohemian, seventies-inspired items. It is wearable and stylish, including men’s,women’s, children’s and home.

The offer is more “adult”, less “teenage” than Forever 21 and Old Navy, less contemporary than Zara and less trendy than H+M. They also have a particularly strong intimate apparel department, which could eventually take a bite out of Victoria’s Secret. I couldn’t help thinking, why a frugal customer would scour discounters like TJX, when they can find such depth of selection at Primark?

Sometimes foreign-based retailer’s brand aesthetic doesn’t fit with American styling, color and taste levels. (I think this will hamper Uniglo’s future US expansion.) Primark’s Dublin-designed products feel comfortably appropriate in the US market.

A well done athletic assortment

A well done athletic assortment

Primark is another game changing player in the seismic shift of the Teutonic plates under US retail. The Millennial customer’s high debt levels, surging rent, transportation, entertainment expenses and the cost of staying connected, have had a deflationary effect on apparel pricing. To a great extent this customer is brand agnostic and sees apparel as a commodity. Fast-fashion, discount stores, consignment and apparel rental retailers, have been the beneficiaries of this mega-trend.

I spoke to an eagerly observing Primark executive. He was leaving in a few days to open the King of Prussia store in PA. I said, “Forever 21, Zara, H+M, Kohl’s, Target and J.C.Penney have a lot to worry about with Primark“. He wryly replied “That’s what we hope for.”

Men's clothing is wearable and compelling.

Men’s clothing is wearable and compelling.

Dix&Pond is the blog of Dix & Pond Consulting, Boston-based, product development, creative, branding, business consulting and executive coaching for apparel, footwear & consumer products companies and retail analysts. Follow me to get the latest posts

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Top Women’s Casual Shoe Trends for Fall 2015

The Top Casual Women's Footwear Trends For Fall 2015

CLICK THE PHOTO TO SEE THE SLIDE SHOW

THE TOP WOMEN’S CASUAL FOOTWEAR TRENDS                 

There are five big trends in women’s casual footwear for fall 2015. Look for strong athletic inspiration, vintage looks, under-construction, simple styling, ultra-comfort and the contrast of glamour with sportiness.

Vintage Sport: Simple, vintage, vulcanized shoes continue to be a strong trend for fall 2015. Look for hipster sneakers, slip-ons, boxing and basket ball styles, as well as rubber soles on leather-upper boots and shoes. These under-constructed, athletic-inspired shoes pair with skinny, boyfriend jeans, skirts and athletic pants.

Seventies Bohemian: Under-constructed, hippie sandals and boots complement the retro, seventies, bohemian, fashion trend. There is a resurgence of suede, tan leathers, cork, stacked heels, lug soles, chukkas, ankle boots, sherpa and fringe details. Reemerging flared jeans require higher-heeled boots, sandals and shoes.

Easy Living: Comfort is a mega-trend in casual shoes. Soft, bend and stretch ballerinas, slip-ons, lace-free styles, brogues with rubber soles and driving moccasins, in a range of colors, patterns and materials are endlessly wearable for work and on the weekends.

Looking Sharp: Very pointed toes emerge in women’s ballet flats, Mary Janes, loafers, menswear looks, booties and lace-ups in suedes, patterns, metallic, rustic and patent leathers. These pair well with pants, short skirts and jeans.

Glam Sport:  Sport shoes go glamorous. Sneakers, loafers and shoes with rubber bottoms get a serious dose of cosmopolitan in metallic, patent leathers and edgy details. These pair well with urban minimalist and athletic looks.

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE SLIDE SHOW

Dix&Pond is the blog of Dix & Pond Consulting, Boston-based, product development, creative, branding, business consulting and executive coaching for retail, apparel, footwear & consumer products companies. Follow me to get the latest posts

Thank you for liking and sharing this, if you enjoyed the post!

Twelve Hot Design Trends in Athletic Apparel

If you still think of women’s active apparel as polar fleece and half-zip poly jackets you’re living in a time warp. Fashion athletic apparel has disrupted and blurred casual lifestyle apparel, like Uber has to transportation. We aren’t going back to formulaic tees and jeans any time soon, as the dominant uniform of women’s weekend casual.

This seismic shift started when market disruptor Lululemon questioned the assumptions that women didn’t want fashion and were not willing to pay for style, comfort and quality in athletic apparel. Until then women’s activewear was an identical twin to men’s, in equally dismal fabrics and devoid of fashion. Under Armour began pushing the envelope in men’s at the same time as Lululemon. Both of these innovative brands were born from a fashion point-of-view, not the footwear industry that used to drive the category.

Dix & Pond Athletic Apparel Trends

Athleisure was born. Women have adopted the fashion, quality performance fabrics and comfort to wear in and out of the gym, at the expense of the traditional jeans and tee businesses.

As one of  the few bright spots in women’s apparel, competition is rising dramatically. Everyone is getting into the game. Athleta, Gap’s active division has elevated themselves from dated “new-age” California looks to a more urban vibe with a wide range of lifestyle items. Tory Burch, Kate Spade and many startup brands have entered the game. The competitive stakes are much higher now, and only “brand relevant” innovators will win. If your company is following, not innovating, your going to feel the squeeze.

Here are twelve significant trends in women’s athletic apparel design. Did your company see them coming?

Sheer madness. Sheer insets and translucent fabrics add cool functionality and peek-a-boo sex appeal, to everything from tops, legging to outerwear.

Under & over. Highly-evolved sports bras are a key classification to be worn layered and alone. Matching “no-show” undies from leaders such as Lululemon, Under Armour, Moving Comfort and others complete the look.

Self reflection. Playful and highly creative, reflective detailing adds function and fun-factor, to all categories of running apparel.

Printed matters. Hip, urban, abstract and geometric prints are driving legging, capris and short sales. Spiritual, “zen-like” yoga wear prints are now soooo 2010.

Back story. Naughty or nice? Back interest…cut outs, layering, lingerie detailing, halters and criss-cross backs, have been heating up top sales.

Booty call. Design and functional back details and shorts are the ultimate “booty call” and driving bottom sales.

Town down. Regular and micro down filled outerwear vests, parkas, anoraks and baseball jackets are ubiquitous and go uptown in styling. Try this, count how many Barbour, Canada Goose and Moncler jackets you see in 30 minutes on an East Coast city street on a December day.

Dress up. One piece ease and comfort, knit dresses are layered over gym clothes, swimwear or worn alone. This hot category is the ultimate multi-tasker from gym to street.

Metro techno. Unique knit and woven technical fabrics with performance properties such as SPF 50, wicking, anti-stink, water resistance, etc. are used in fashion forward, modern styling. Outerwear is a stand-out category, in new fabrications.

Short & sweet. Short-shorts, boy shorts, gym and bikes shorts layered and worn solo are driving sweet sales.

Walk the talk. Graphic typography plays to the mega-trend for self-expression and individualism. Edgy, motivational and descriptive words, quotes and sayings are on tees, tops, jackets and bottoms.

Tony trousers. The market has gone way beyond yoga pants and leggings to drawstring gym pants, knit jeans and “city pants” in comfortable and durable functional knits and techno wovens.

How did your company do?

Dix&Pond is the blog of Dix & Pond Consulting, Boston-based, product development, creative, branding, business consulting and executive coaching for retail, apparel, footwear & consumer products companies. Follow me to get the latest posts

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