On the Horizon

“Don’t you ever get tired of retailing?” is a question I get asked all the time. The truth is no, I don’t. There is always something happening, something new to report. I think that’s because retailers, an optimistic lot, are always plotting the next “big” thing. Here are some of the ones I’ll be watching in the months to come:

Crazy 8: The third children’s clothing store concept from Gymboree, Crazy 8 is also being touted as its most value-oriented. The offerings will extend up to size 14 and have a trendier fashion look than the company’s namesake and Janie & Jack brands. The prototype debuts in August, with locations in California and the Houston area. Up to 10 stores are expected by yearend.

Gby Guess: With its trendy core retail brand surging here at home and its European sales swelling, Guess?, Inc. is now courting younger shoppers with more affordable fashions. Its new G by Guess concept premiered in spring at the North County Mall in Escondido, Calif., with an additional 24 stores due by the end of summer. The merchandise, trendy but not quite as cutting edge as standard Guess fare, is priced between the company’s retail and outlet stores.

Meanwhile, Guess? is also moving forward with another new format, Guess Footwear, with about five to eight locations planned during the next year.

House of Hoops: Foot Locker Inc. and Nike are teaming up to launch a basketball-themed chain that will sell footwear, apparel and equipment. The companies promise that the stores “will give consumers who live and breathe basketball culture a unique retail experience.” Fifty locations are planned for the next three years, with the first House of Hoops opening in New York City’s Harlem in early 2008.

Seven for All Mankind: After a successful test of the retail waters with a pop-up shop during the holidays, the premium denim company will open its first free-standing store in November, in its Los Angeles hometown. The 3,000-sq.-ft. space will feature the complete Seven for All Mankind collection for men and women.

Sunsights by Solstice: Luxury-sunglass retailer Solstice is spinning off a new concept dedicated to slightly lower-priced eyewear. Sunsights by Solstice made its debut at Westfield Garden State Plaza, Paramus, N.J. It features open displays of Juicy Couture, Lacoste and Coach and other brand names, with an average retail price of $150. The company plans to open 10 Sunsights stores this year and 20 in 2008. Its strategy includes airport locations.

Under Armour: The sports-apparel maker, best known for its high-tech performance gear, has been growing at a fast clip. It will open its first full-priced store at Westfield Annapolis Mall, Annapolis, Md., in November. The 4,500-sq.-ft. unit will sell the full range of Under Armour gear, from football cleats to women’s yoga pants.

Urban Outfitters: The Philadelphia-based company will test its fourth retail brand (whose name has not yet been revealed) early next year. Urban’s first nonapparel format, the “greenhouse” inspired environment will feature lifestyle home-and-garden products, combined with antiques, live plants and flowers. Sites will be large and freestanding.

In other news, Abercrombie & Fitch is said to have another brand, a lingerie concept, in the works. And Topshop, the U.K. retail hotshot, is expected to announce its first U.S. location (in the Big Apple, of course) any day now.

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