Friday, January 14, 2011

Talbots Rebranding Rebrand

Back in May 2008 I wrote a post titled "Talbots = Fashion Hell?" where I debated on if you could find redeemable clothing at the chain retailer. I would link, but most the images and links are broken. At the end of the post I stated "While very preppy, Talbot's isn't just for old people! Plus, they get extra points for having most things in petite and plus sizes too. Talbot's, you are officially upgraded to fashion purgatory in my mind!"

Unfortunately for them, most shoppers have yet to change their mind about Talbots. In fact, I just read that their chief executive, Trudy Sullivan, said " Its image had gotten so old that in a customer survey a couple of years ago, women 65 years of age and older said the brand was for "someone older." When you're too old for new retirees, you gotta be in trouble. And, yes, they had reported more than a year of losses a little more than a year ago. So they decided to revamp their image.

Looks from Talbots Fall 2010

Aiming to attract a younger, chicer market, they stepped up their game for fall 2010 with fashions similar to what you'd expect in a J. Crew or Ann Taylor store. But, while those companies continue to thrive, Talbots is really just getting by. I'm a little surprised, their fall look book had plenty of pieces I would wear... though of course I didn't even look until just now. I guess once you dismiss a store as "not you," it simply falls off your radar! But I'm open to change, so let's see what spring 2011 will be about...
Looks from Talbots Spring 2011
Hmm, looks like thier commitment is waffling. The clothing I see above looks like the strange love child of Cold Water Creek and Oscar de la Renta (after getting REALLY drunk on martinis at the Algonquin Hotel and picking up a midwestern tourist that wandered in lost). Perhaps their sales went down for fall and they decided they were alienating their current customer base? I mean, I know we're having a ladylike revival right now, but the clothing has fallen distinctly back into "old lady" territory.

All I have to say is, wasn't that the plan? Talbots, if you can't stick to your guns for more than a season you'll never attract the 25-45 market you desire. Because I know none of my friends even knew they were trying anything besides mom jeans and the like! It takes awhile to reach a new market, especially when you fail to really publicize your new look in the first place. Or maybe they decided it would be too hard to compete with the J. Crews and LOFTs of the world so set their sites lower... maybe Chico's or Jones NY. Either way, Talbots needs to find their identity stat!


Beth Anderson said...

Vyque I completely agree with you. There were several items I was really interested in purchasing from the Fall line, but their extremely high pricing is always an issue for me. You can't put a complete look together for under $300. Why bother, I say. I did like what they did with their denim line though. Either way, it's going to really take a major push on their part to change their image. I just don't see it happening.