Bloomingdale’s Merchandise Mavens

Bloomingdale's Merchandise Mavens
Francine Klein and Debbie King

On why footwear is faring better than other categories:
Shoes were one of the strongest performers against last year for the [fall] season and for the year. Before going into the season, we forecast that the boot business was going to be a key classification, and as we got into the fourth quarter, we went after that very aggressively. It worked well for us, and it wasn’t just Uggs, it was also fashion boots and other elements of the boot category.

On expectations for spring:
We realize that the regular-priced business is harder to come by, so we’re cautious about what we are buying and making sure we’re balancing wear-now merchandise with go-forward merchandise. I still believe there’s a big opportunity for Ugg.

On fresh fashion trends:
In the sandal category, there’s a lot of newness, whether it’s huaraches, wedges with cork bottoms or wood bottoms, new gladiator styles with studding detail, and platform sandals. These looks give the customer an opportunity to buy something they don’t already have in their closet.

On pricing shifts:
At some point, everybody thought there was no limit to what you could retail a shoe for, but now the customer is absolutely pushing back. Some of our resources are looking at the pricing relationship within their line.

On how retailers can retrain the customer to pay full price:
I don’t think it’s a matter of retraining the customer — there’s got to be a merchandise assortment that excites them and gives them value for what they are paying. Even in a tough fall season, we had product that the customer wanted that was not promotional.

On bringing in new brands:
See by Chloé and Vera Wang Lavender are two of the new brands we are bringing in. It’s important for us to continue to look at new resources because our customer is always looking for newness. We’ll also continue to shop for new resources as we move into the fall season. [Bloomingdale’s held its first series of designer open calls on Feb. 6.]

On their trade show strategy:
We haven’t gone to WSA in two years because of the timing, although we did find it to be a good venue to get an overview of new resources. FFANY is a very important show for us, and we will also be going to the Micam show and to Premiere Classe in Paris.

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