Diane von Furstenberg turns focus to retail

Iconic fashion brand Diane von Furstenberg is looking at a lot of growth potential in its retail division.

The $500 million company wants to continue operation of the existing 100 U.S. stores, open more international stores and roll out a new prototype highlighting accessories, reported Women's Wear Daily.


"When I first sat down with the family to present a plan as to how I envisioned growing the business, retail was the major focus," Joel Horowitz, co-chairman of Diane von Furstenberg, told Women's Wear Daily.

"The plan showed that we could comfortably open 100 stores in the U.S. in a five-to-six-year period," he said. "From there, we'd grow the business based on the results of those 100 stores." Horowitz joined the company in 2012.

He suggested that 200 stores in the U.S. may not be far-fetched, considering how many competitors operate at a similar price point. The brand has mostly directed its focus toward New York, Florida, California and Texas. However, soon they will move into secondary markets in cities such as Seattle, Scottsdale and Atlanta.

Diane von Furstenberg's flagship in New York's meatpacking district will undergo a renovation in January that will set the tone for future stores to come. The new look will include updated fixtures and a cafe. Ready-to-wear will move to the back of the store and accessories will be front and center.

"We know that to have a successful retail rollout that's profitable, accessories have to make up a significant percentage of total sales," added Horowitz. As much as 40 to 50 percent of the store will be dedicated to accessories.

Right now accessories account for about 10 percent of sales and the brand hopes that figure will be closer to 50 percent in three to four years.

At the moment, the retailer maintains a presence in 20 countries, with the biggest growth in China, where the brand has 15 stores with four more to open by the end of the year. Many luxury retailers have made a big international push in the past year. For example, brands such as Nordstrom (NYSE:JWN) and Saks Fifth Avenue (NYSE:HBC) are moving into Canada to take advantage of the country's rising wealth.

Diane von Furstenberg also sees great potential in e-commerce. The online retail platform operated independently of in-store operations prior to Horowitz joining the team. Now all buying is done under one umbrella to make shopping as seamless as possible.The website recently underwent a facelift and the company wants to redesign the checkout and customer service pages to make them more user-friendly.

Diane von Furstenberg is one of several retailers proving that luxury brands are alive and well. As another example, Bergdorf Goodman recently remodeled its men's department and began a new online initiative that included an Instagram account dedicated to menswear.

For more:
-See this Women's Wear Daily article (subscription)

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