Victoria's Secret Tests New VSX Sport Concept

Retailing is gaga for yoga.

"No one needs J. Crew to provide yoga clothes," Millard "Mickey" Drexler, chairman and chief executive of J. Crew told WWD. "But it's a matter of style, fit, quality, having the right colors and details and being differentiated." Drexler added that yoga is a business "that's important to our customers. We selected yoga because it really fits very much into what we thought we could do well and what will differentiate us in the market."

"It's become a highly competitive, but not yet saturated category," said Jennifer Black of Jennifer Black Associates.

Julie Bryan, a retail analyst from Jennifer Black Associates, visited the VSX store and left with a positive impression. "I love the product. There's great stretch and great support," she said. "Previously, Limited had a sport line in Victoria's Secret stores. It didn't do that well. The challenge is gaining brand recognition and competing with the likes of Nike and Lululemon, which have great brand recognition. That's a hurdle."

Bryan said the fit is comparable to Lululemon, and added, "VSX is very complimentary to a women's figure and supportive, which is not an easy combination."

She described the look of the store as "basic — kind of similar to an American Apparel store, with a simple layout that makes it easier to find products."

The question is if and when Limited gives VSX the green light to roll out. In a conference call Wednesday, Sharen Turney, ceo of Victoria's Secret, said, "VSX is performing to expectations, and we continue to be confident about its potential."

"It is a merchandise line that should be a natural fit for the VS customer," said Mark Montagna, analyst at CL King & Associates. "Management is doing its typically thorough analysis and business monitoring before rolling it out extensively. We do not expect it to roll out until it is performing to acceptable rates of return. If VS can get it right, it is a big opportunity. Yogawear is now a piece of the normal attire for women."

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