The Kmart Challenge: Reinventing Apparel To Lure New Customers

Kmart Corp. has organized a New York design group to revamp apparel and home products and reverse dismal sales as it struggles to survive.

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  • Emphasizing key items and showcasing them on walls and table displays. Outfits and mix-and-match products will also be stressed, and next to key items will be fashion items.

  • Providing “true differentiation between the brands,” Goodman said. In-house brands will have clearer messages and sharper points of view, and are being separated by greater space and distinct signage for more of a “shop-in-shop experience,” though Kmart is not going so far as to give each brand its own fixturing and unique environments.

  • Less “stuff,” meaning merchandise that meant little to shoppers, such as the JBXR contemporary line, which got phased out, as did Joe Boxer apparel, though Joe Boxer intimate apparel and men’s boxers are still sold.
  • “Instead of 10 styles on an arm of T-stand rack, there will be two styles per arm,” Goodman said.

    Specifically for fall, Schultz said, Basic Additions has improved quality and will emphasize men’s oxfords, classic white shirts, slim-fits, pull-on khakis, white Ts, and easy fits. In a presentation to WWD, Schultz showed off an assortment reflecting more youthful and contemporary styling, stretch and better-quality fabrics.

    Route 66, a denim-based collection, will have premium washes, more proportioned fits, low-rise styles and overall a young feeling, but with a broad appeal. “You won’t have to be a teenager to wear the product.” Schultz said.

    Thalia will be “more contemporary, more sophisticated, and not a line just for Latin girls,” Schultz said. “It’s great-fitting jeans, tight, lower rise, sexier, and body-conscious,” and has been infused with current youthful fashion, such as ponchos and iconic leather jackets.

    Attention, a more contemporary, career-oriented line, will showcase stretch separates for the 25- to 40-year-old set. “It will feel more modern than anything else in the store,” Schultz said.

    And Jaclyn Smith will appeal to women 35 and older and feel like “a better sportswear collection from a department store. It didn’t look sophisticated before,” Schultz said. Goodman said Jaclyn Smith has been updated, with higher-quality silk and redefined fits, and better will be differentiated from Attention.
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