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Charlotte Russe grows up

Her new retail look makes its debut this weekend at Santa Monica Place.

August 08, 2010|By Max Padilla | Special to the Los Angeles Times

Charlotte Russe has moved into the new Santa Monica Place and had her own makeover.

The San Diego-based chain store, a mall fixture that offers inexpensive trendy fashions to teenage girls and young women, is rolling out its new retail concept at Santa Monica Place this weekend. The Santa Monica store is the prototype for revamped Charlotte Russe stores opening in Cambridge, Mass., and Chicago in November.

Jenny Ming, Charlotte Russe's president and chief executive, says the 35-year-old retailer appeared "stuck in the 1990s" and lost confidence as an early seller of inexpensive fast-fashion. The store selection had become too focused on the teenage customer, who shopped the store for inexpensive accessories and prom dresses but graduated from Charlotte Russe as soon as she graduated from high school. Now the brand seeks to appeal to that young woman through college and her first job up to age 30 — Charlotte Russe even offers a "wear to work" collection featuring blazers ($34) and slacks ($29.50). The clothes "are more elevated," says Ming. "It's better-edited fashion with incredible pricing."

Ming came onboard last October after the company was bought by Advent, a private-equity firm, for $380 million. Ming, a former president of Old Navy and a 20-year Gap veteran, relocated Charlotte Russe's design and marketing division to San Francisco.

The 5,400-square-foot Charlotte Russe at Santa Monica Place shows off a new logo, Modernist-influenced interior and special mannequins created to display jewelry and shoes. The other retail concept is a pared-down selection of on-trend merchandise. "We can't believe in every trend but what the customer wants," Ming says.

The new Charlotte Russe features an edited selection of go-to basics, including denim and shirts, such as tanks updated this season with sequins ($18). The jean collection offers nine fits, ranging from denim leggings ($29.50) to slouchy "ex-boyfriend" treated denim trousers ($34.50).

The fast-fashion pieces, meant to be refreshed every four weeks, are the most expensive pieces in the store now, including a $40 lace shrug along with $29.99 lace dresses. The other Charlotte Russe trend idea is "fleur fatigue," teaming floral dresses with military pieces such as an army jacket ($36.99) and combat boots ($30).

Charlotte Russe also plays up its popular accessory offerings, including footwear ranging from $30 pumps to a $50 folding boot that can go from calf to mid-thigh, both made from faux-leather. A $22.50 quilted shoulder bag made from active wear materials has been anointed by this September's Teen Vogue as "the affordable It bag"

But Charlotte Russe hasn't forgotten its core shoppers: Teenage girls can still find inexpensive school dance dresses, like a $29 flower-print 1980s bubble style. "Gossip Girl" stylist Eric Daman is also designing a capsule collection of special occasion dresses, which will be out in October.

Another incentive to give Charlotte Russe fresh eyes: Ongoing through Labor Day (Sept. 6) the chain is offering BOGO, buy one, get one half-off, deals on selected merchandise.

395 Santa Monica Place, second floor, Santa Monica. 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.

http://www.charlotterusse.com

Sample Sales

Rachel Pally Weekends from Friday through Aug. 22: Pally, a Los Angeles designer known for her jersey pieces for women, is having a huge sample sale at the brand's warehouse, taking from 55% to 85% off retail on summer 2010 fashions along with previous season styles. Prices start at $30 and top out at $1,290 Cash, Visa or MasterCard accepted. The sale will take place over two weekends starting Aug. 13.

2301 E. 7th St., Suite C100, Los Angeles. 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 20 and Aug. 21; 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 22.

http://www.rachelpally.com

L.A.M.B. and Harajuku Lovers Friday and Saturday: Gwen Stefani's two collections are the highlight of this accessory sample sale, the first for the brands. Prices go from $10 to $125 — up to 75% off retail. Some deals include the Harajuku Lovers "Candy" tote and "Poppin" bag, each $35 (regular price $78 and $128, respectively) plus the L.A.M.B. "Worthington" satchel and "Williamsfield" tote, each $100 (regular price $275 and $295 respectively).

Siren Studios, 6063 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles. 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday.

http://www.gwenstefani.com

Opening

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