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Kroger partners with Club Monaco founder on new apparel brand

BY Marianne Wilson

The Kroger Co. is overhauling its apparel strategy by launching a family apparel brand developed by the man responsible for Club Monaco and Joe Fresh.

Created by retail veteran and designer Joe Mimran and called Dip, the new brand will include men’s, women’s, juniors, kids and baby collections. It will launch this fall in more than 300 Fred Meyer and Kroger Marketplace stores. The brand will replace more than a dozen of Kroger’s existing private-label clothing brands, giving the company a more streamlined approach to apparel.

“Dip enables Kroger to provide a meaningfully better clothing experience, and ultimately, expand on the products and experiences that you can only get at our stores,” said Robert Clark, Kroger’s senior VP of merchandising. “We’ve worked closely with Joe and his team to develop a line of clothing that works for today’s times – easy to buy, easy to wear, and easy to love. Dip will transform our apparel business, further redefining the customer experience through Restock Kroger.”

In partnering with Mimran, Kroger is linking up with a designer who has forged a successful track record in both upscale and budget-friendly apparel. In addition to founding specialty fashion retailer Club Monaco, Mimran is the creator of Joe Fresh, an affordable, fast-fashion family apparel brand which is sold in Canada through Loblaw’s supermarkets and freestanding Joe Fresh stores. (Joe Fresh, however failed to gain traction in the United States. After opening a handful of U.S. stores and also in-store shops at J.C. Penny, the brand ultimately exited the market.)

“Dip is simple, fresh, and goes great with everything,” said Mimran. “Style should be fun. We believe good design can be affordable. It should fit into your life, not the other way around.”

As to the brand’s name, the designer said it is in sync with Kroger’s heritage in food.

“We looked at Kroger’s unmatched heritage in food,” Mimran explained. “We thought about the fun, easy energy of the clothes. We thought about what makes every gathering. And it just kind of clicked – Dip.”

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Build-A-Bear Workshop in first-ever birthday ‘pay’ event

BY Marianne Wilson

Build-A-Bear Workshop is taking birthday celebrations to a new level.

The specialty retailer will host its first-ever “Pay Your Age Day” event in all U.S., Canada and U.K. stores on Thursday, July 12. As part of the promotion, customers who visit a store in person on July 12 can pay their current age to make a stuffed animal of their choice. To participate, parents or guardians over age 18 must enroll in the retailer’s complimentary rewards program or provide a valid email address and name.

The one-day event is being held to celebrate the launch of the retailer’s new year-round “Count Your Candles” birthday experience, where customers 14 and under who visit Build-A-Bear store with a rewards member can pay their age for a special “birthday treat bear” during the month of their birthday. Birthday guests will also receive a party hat, special sticker and fun photo props if they want to capture the moment.

“We have overwhelming data that indicates Build-A-Bear is synonymous with childhood, and nearly one-third of our sales are associated with birthdays,” said Sharon Price John, president and CEO, Build-A-Bear Workshop. “We ‘heart’ birthdays at Build-A-Bear, so we’re hosting the Pay Your Age Day to launch our year-round ‘Count Your Candles’ offer for Guests celebrating a birthday with us in stores — an experience we designed especially to commemorate birthdays in a memorable way.”

Build-A-Bear Workshop has over 400 stores worldwide, including corporately-managed stores in the United States, Canada, China, Denmark, Ireland, Puerto Rico, and the United Kingdom, and franchise stores in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, Mexico and the Middle East.

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Apparel giant scores big with newest brand ambassador

BY Marianne Wilson

Japanese apparel retailer Uniqlo has landed an ace — a tennis ace to be more specific.

The retailer on Monday announced a partnership with tennis great Roger Federer, who will serve as Uniqlo’s newest global brand ambassador. The contract is reportedly worth $300 million over 10 years, one of the largest endorsement agreements ever, reported the New York Times.

Federer, whose long term Nike sponsorship expired in March, will represent Uniqlo at all tennis tournaments throughout the year, starting with The Championships, Wimbledon 2018, which began on July 2. Federer’s game wear for Wimbledon was designed at the Uniqlo Paris R&D Center. Instead of the classic polo shirt or crewneck style collar, the design reflected the athlete’s preference for a short stand-up collar “to emphasize a more sophisticated look both on and off court,” the retailer said.

The deal took the industry by surprise. Uniqlo is not a sports apparel company or an upscale brand. It is known for its very affordable, fashion basics.

“Mr. Federer is one of the greatest champions in history; my respect for him goes beyond sport,” said Tadashi Yanai, founder, chairman and CEO of Uniqlo parent Fast Retailing. “Our partnership will be about innovation on and off court. Uniqlo will help Mr. Federer continue taking tennis to new places, while exploring innovations in a number of areas including technology and design with him.”

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