Monday, May 23, 2005

Women over 30 shop for clothes? Who knew?

Maybe they regret firing Sarah Jessica Parker for turning 40. Maybe they're jealous that JCPenney's profits surged after introducing fashions for suburban moms. No telling. But The Gap suddenly has plans for women who do not look or live like bulimic 14-year-olds. They gotta do somethin' because The Gap and its other stores, Old Navy and Banana Republic, are not having a good year.

So: "At Old Navy, designers are paying closer attention to customer feedback, offering bikinis with two-way stretch fabric and relatively conservative 'tankini' cuts....The 12-year-old brand will also try to strike a better balance between appealing to fashion-conscious young adults and value-oriented families with more diverse needs, including plus and maternity sizes." And this: "The company...announced last month it would launch a new retail concept called 'Forth & Towne.' Stores will open in the fall and focus on women over age 35, whose spending power accounts for about 39 percent of women's total apparel expenditures." I just hope that's not "Forth" as in "Fourth Decade of Your Life."


SuzanH said...

I remember reading something about this a while ago--weren't people (retailers) bugging because women weren't buying their clothes except for Chico's?

I've often wondered why I can't find anything I'd like to wear in oh, say, a natural fiber that doesn't cost $80 and have that distinctive Talbot's look. Although Talbot's has been looking more and more appealing.

Irene Done said...

Funny you should mention Talbot's. So far this year, their sales have been up 4% over last year -- not as high as Chico's, which was like, off the charts. Some of Talbot's success is due to discounted merchandise and some to the introduction of plus sizes. In contrast, Ann Taylor same-store sales fell 3%. I don't know what all this means. But there seems to be a segment of women (or it might be just me) who don't feel comfortable in crack-height jeans or clingy polyester fabrics. And it has nothing to do with size! I have to wonder: how many stores have to post a sales decline for the industry to slap its forehead and start doing something like focus groups or online surveys to get to know women better?