As writers from around the world began filing stories for our annual WWD Denim in Depth section that ran May 22, a new and perhaps more troubling theme emerged - lack of confidence in retailers. Brands up and down the price ladder have adopted a do-it-yourself mentality when it comes to retail. Signature stores are widely being regarded as the quick fix to slowing sales. The weakening global economy has taken a hit on consumers' pocket books in developed markets like the U.S., South Korea, Japan and Europe. In response, retailers have cut assortments, tightened inventories and started playing it safe when bringing in new styles.
"Retailers are scared," said one vendor. Retailers selling their own brands cut back drastically as well. One denim fabric supplier said he recognized a problem last August when fabric orders for holiday merchandise didn't come in. "I knew it was serious by October," he said. "People were canceling Christmas orders." Back inventory didn't clear out until well into March.
This has left few options for those looking to position themselves as global lifestyle brands - Seven For All Mankind, True Religion and Joe's Jeans to name a few - to introduce customers to their growing array of products. The push to open signature stores isn't limited to premium players, either.
Moderate brand Silver Jeans will be opening its first store in Denver this summer and believes it can open up to 75 over the next five years. While some brands rush to open up shop for themselves, others are abandoning the premium ranks in the hopes of enticing price-conscious consumers. Vendors are hoping the $65 to $125 price range will be the next sweet spot in the market.