Ever since the discount shoe behemoth brought on Matthew Rubel, former CEO of Cole Haan, Payless Shoe Source has been experiencing a fashion renaissance. They recently teamed up with fashion design house Abaete to create footwear for the runway, and are now creating an original line of accessories & belts in-house. "In the past, we would work with agents to pick out items for the store," Rubel told WWD. "We will continue to do that, but now we will create original designs around trends. We see this as a tool to democratize accessories, creating great design at a compelling price point."
Five of their stores have now been completely made over - including the premiere Fifth Avenue location in NYC - to merchandise based on product stories. Gone are the unseemly racks upon racks of open shoe boxes. "Our goal is to create a store experience that will elevate the product, even though it's at a mass price point," Rubel said. "By taking out the shoe racks, we can show shoes off by style and create a product story around them with other items like handbags." Another four stores (out of a total of more than 4600) are slated for this degree of remodeling, while almost 250 will soon feature front-of-store fashion'y merchandising.
The reason for this overhaul? To attract the fashion consumer that willingly drops cash on something trendy or new...often. "Payless attracts three kinds of customers," Andrew Jassin, managing director of the Jassin O'Rourke Group, a retail consulting firm explains. "There is that affluent customer who is looking for a bargain. There is the middle-class customer who is looking for value. Then there is the lower-income customer who shops at Payless out of necessity. To attract a trendier, hipper customer, Payless has to do a better merchandising job. When we look at the stores now, they are looking a little antiquated. So they need to change the general overview." via WWD
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- Lesley Scott