Can Talbots Lure Younger Shoppers Back?

Can Talbots Lure Younger Shoppers Back?

Can Talbots Lure Younger Shoppers Back?

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
April 13 2010 10:45 AM

Can Talbots Lure Younger Shoppers Back?

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In fashion, there are casualties. Stores and labels come up, and then they go down. (Think of the sagas of The Limited and Calvin Klein.) Talbots is down-way down, posting a loss greater than $300 million in the fourth quarter of 2008-and they're looking to a complete fashion overhaul to attract younger buyers (for Talbots, that means 35). It's considered a risky strategy, because old customers may leave as the new customers fail to arrive, but maybe Talbots is perfectly poised to lure in irony-loving Gen-Xers amused by the idea of surprising friends with an unexpected brand. The WSJ 's pictures of its fall line seem less a departure from the not-quite-Chanel pearls and boxy jackets that Talbots has always offered than a eclectic twist on the same look-it's still "classic," but it's classic with leather opera gloves and spike heels.

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The same attempt at pulling in younger buyers seems, tentatively, to be working at Eileen Fisher, which is fighting against a " graying boho" image (last year, when I spotted one of their new sweaters in a magazine and liked it enough to check the brand, I almost spit out my coffee and ordered my coffin) with skinny pants and shrunken vests . Fisher has said that she considers the relaxed, clean lines of her clothes (and their no-heels-no-lipstick aesthetic) to be feminist; now, she's expanding her definition of feminism to include a more girly silhouette. Just as no one should keep the same hairstyle for decades, old brands have to evolve, too. I hope it works. I probably won't stop into our local Talbots until the next time my mom's in town-but maybe I'll actually let her buy me something when we do.