The Boston Globe has an article today about Talbots (the clothing brand, remember them?) hiring a consultant to "sharpen its brand" to appeal to women over 35. VP of investor relations at Talbots Julie Lorigan admits that "we haven't gotten it right yet...we're not offering the customer exactly what she needs -- and we need to do that."
The article quotes Todd D. Slater, managing director of retail and consumer equity research at Lazard Capital Markets, saying that "the baby boomer customer has been less interested in the traditional look for quite some time." Slater thinks Talbots should be "a little more forward. A little more in step with current fashion."
That comment is idiotic. Talbots is doing badly because its current "classic" designs stink, not because it should abandon classic design.
When I think of Talbot's great years, I think of preppy clothing for grown-ups. Rich color, rich texture, rich design. Now go take a look at the Talbots website. The pants (the ones on the upper right, on the model with the red jacket)? Too short - trying to copy that capri look? Ugh. The red jacket with the wrap belt--nice, but what is the model doing with a camisole underneath? That's not classic -- that's tacky! And those boots! What are we, back to the '80s? And what's with the cheap-looking leather and suede? Where are the classic, rich leather, stack heeled boots that will never go out of style? I'll admit, they have another outfit on there that's nice -- the white brocade jacket and long, wide-legged pants -- why don't they go with more clothes like that?
Also, while we're on the subject, that model is all wrong...she doesn't look like an over-35 young baby boomer. She looks like a gawky under-35. No, no, no.
If you have time, click on the entire collection to take a look. Most of their stuff is tacky -- yuk. They need to hire a name designer to put his or her stamp on the collection...really go out there...pearls and cashmere and leather and plaid, plaid, plaid.
Also, their price points are too low...the clothing should be more expensive than it is.
You go Talbots! I have faith in you!