I figure-in the next few months, there's gonna be SO much press, so it probably deserves a new topic.
'World of JLo' boutique raises hopes for Field's
July 25, 2005
BY SANDRA GUY Business Reporter
Pop diva Jennifer Lopez' decision to open her first U.S. boutique at Marshall Field's State Street store has set off a flurry of speculation about the future of the store's exclusive boutiques.
The 500- to 600-square-foot "World of JLo" boutique will be modeled after JLo's only other shop, in Moscow, and will sell handbags, jewelry, fragrances, underwear, sportswear and sunglasses.
The boutique will be hard to miss because its design by Robin Kramer will feature padded quilted walls, patent-leather ottomans and a dusty rose color scheme with gold trim. It will be on the State Street store's second floor in the "young contemporary" department.
The announcement last week offers hope to fans of Field's boutiques that the stores-within-a-store concept will continue after Field's gets a new owner this fall. The luxury shops, run by outside vendors such as Baccarat crystal, Bose electronics, and menswear shops Thomas Pink and Alexandre Savile Row, were a key part of Field's flagship store makeover two years ago.
Federated Department Stores, owner of Macy's and Bloomingdale's, bought Field's owner, St. Louis-based May Department Stores, for $11 billion. The deal requires antitrust approval, but is expected to go through this fall.
Terry Lundgren, CEO of Federated, told reporters after a July 13 shareholders' meeting that he wanted to get a better look at "what's working and what's not" inside Field's store at 111 N. State.
On the other hand, Lundgren signaled that State Street could remain as is, but that its new parent would use more real estate inside the store for unique merchandise.
"There is no problem with space in that store for plenty of high-end merchandise," Lundgren said.
Andy Hilfiger, brother of Tommy Hilfiger and president and co-founder of Sweetface Fashion Co., the JLo brand holding company, said Field's and Federated have been excellent customers of the JLo brands, and he expects the relationship to continue. "I believe we're in good hands," he said.
Nevertheless, the Wall Street Journal quoted Lundgren in a June 9 article as saying that Federated had no plans to expand its sales of JLo's three-year-old apparel collection at Macy's beyond the 110 stores where it is sold. Stores had early problems with the apparel's fit, but Lundgren described it as improved.
About six months ago, Field's representatives reviewed Lopez' latest Sweetface women's apparel collection, which launched earlier this year at New York's Fashion Week, and suggested selling all of Lopez' products in Chicago. The Sweetface collection is heavy on embellishments, short-shorts, cashmere sweaters, fur capes and baby doll tops.
Hilfiger said he suggested the boutique concept.
Field's included Lopez in its Glamorama fashion benefit last year, and already sells her fragrances, accessories and intimate apparel collection in different departments at the State Street store.
Lopez -- singer, actress, designer, repeat bride and tabloid favorite -- is slated to open the boutique at a fashion show at the store on Sept. 22.
Retail analyst Candace Corlett said she understood Lundgren's concern about whether some of the boutiques produce a return on their investment.
"Who is buying organic, natural bath remedies at Field's?" said Corlett, an analyst at WSL Strategic Retail in New York.
Analysts Britt Beemer and George Whalin, in separate interviews, said they believe that Federated will turn Field's into a Macy's store and fashion it after upscale Macy's stores in New York and San Francisco.
"I can't imagine that Federated will have something so different than the rest of the chain as the boutiques in one store [in downtown Chicago]," said Beemer, chairman of America's Research Group, based in Charleston, S.C.
But Corlett offered an opposing view: Federated should install its most popular boutiques in a greater number of Field's stores.
Said Corlett, "Exclusivity is a fine thing, but I don't believe that department stores are in a financial position to dicker. They need to give shoppers more reason to go into the mall stores."