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Aug 25, 2020

Business of Fashion: Fabletics and The Case for Opening a New Store Right Now

“The idea is to meet the consumer wherever she is” 

by Cathaleen Chen | Aug 25th, 2020

While retailers like Zara and Nordstrom have announced store closures during the pandemic, Fabletics chose to focus on the success of big-box giants like Target and Walmart.

“Those essential businesses continued to be very robust during the closure so that showed us there was a big appetite for physical retail, but especially omni retail,” said Ron Harries, senior vice president, head of retail, at TechStyle Fashion Group, which owns the the activewear brand. “That allowed us to have confidence that the market will come back.”

Since pandemic restrictions began to lift in June, the Kate Hudson-founded activewear brand has opened eight new stores and has three more new locations planned in 2020. That’s not including the 12 “legging bars” that it will have opened in malls by the end of the year. These are kiosks typically manned by just one associate with a limited assortment of products.

The idea, Harries said, is to meet the consumer wherever she is, whether she wants to browse in person or buy online and return products at either a full-line store or a checkout station.

Like Off-White, Fabletics sees brick-and-mortar as an essential component of digital retail as well, citing the effect of stores as a means of attracting customers to the website too. It’s also introducing a new type of sales associates to its stores: omni associates, whose roles involve managing customer contacts through multiple channels, taking on roles such as selling to online shoppers via chat or video.

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