TECHNOLOGY

Chico’s launches digital brand, names fashion vet as brand head

BY Dan Berthiaume

Struggling women’s apparel retailer Chico’s FAS is looking to digital commerce and marketing to help change its fortunes.

Chico’s is introducing TellTale, a digital-only women’s intimate apparel brand, on April 24. Targeting women 25-40, TellTale will launch with an offering of six key bra silhouettes which will be replicated consistently across varied fashion collections with matching underwear. According to Chico’s, this consistency will allow a customer, upon finding a preferred silhouette, to focus on “fashion and personal expression.”

At the outset, sizing will be 32A-40DD and XS to XL, with most bras in the $39 to $49 range. In addition to targeting a certain size assortment and price point, Chico’s is heavily focusing on marketing and branding to help ensure TellTale catches on with consumers. Kimberly Grabel, a 25-plus-year fashion industry veteran who has led the marketing department at Holt Renfrew and Saks Fifth Avenue, as well as overseen the repositioning of Chico’s Soma intimates brand as senior VP of marketing at Soma, has been named senior VP and GM of TellTale.

In addition, all bra styles will carry signature details, including rose gold TellTale trim and four different closure placements, which Chico’s says will allow for flexibility in fit. In addition to the core offer of bras and undies, TellTale will feature monthly curated stories including apparel, accessories, and beauty that Chico’s says will “align to this customer’s interests and passions and her constant quest for new discoveries.”

“TellTale enables us to capitalize on our intimate’s infrastructure with core, proven expertise already in place, addressing a true white space in a growing market,” said Shelley Broader, CEO and president of Chico’s FAS. “The retail environment is shifting rapidly, and we believe that the winners long-term will be those that have a healthy pipeline of innovation – including innovative approaches to doing business.”

“TellTale allows us to target new customers and offer them a different experience than what we offer through our Soma brand intimate apparel,” said Mary van Praag, president of the Intimate Apparel Group at Chico’s FAS, which includes Soma and TellTale. “It’s exciting to launch a brand in start-up style, with a lean, dedicated team to allow for speed and agility, and I’m thrilled to have Kimberly Grabel lead this effort for us.”

Chico’s may have been inspired by the success of intimate apparel startup Adore Me, which began as a digitally native retailer with a brand message of women’s empowerment. Adore Me has opened four brick-and-mortar stores, with plans to open 300 more in the next five years, and also recently opened a high-tech, 126,000-sq.-ft. distribution center.

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