Can Talbots Attract Younger Customers?

What: Talbots, the mecca of boring fashion, has a plan to keep their business out of debt. Target younger customers….Really.

According to the Wall Street Journal: Talbots must complete an image and merchandise overhaul that attracts a younger customer in order to boost sales.

What We Say: Sometimes retailers should just stick to what they know. Trying to attract a younger crowd could be a little too risky for a brand like Talbots that is known for selling apparel that is a bit, well, conservative- sort of like the “anti- Forever 21″. Instead of changing their target audience maybe the designers should pick up a fashion magazine or two and realize that no matter your age, women prefer their fashion modern with structured silhouette’s, interesting details, and a little bit of attitude. Being a bit conservative and sporty is fine (hello Oscar de la Renta, Armani), but boring and dowdy is not.

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Comments

  1. says

    It seems that a complete image “overhall” would function mostly to turn off their current customer constituency. I think the younger set is all about fast fashion right now, which doesn’t seem to fit with Talbot’s business model.

  2. Brigitte says

    Ok, so some of Talbot’s stuff is a little dowdy but they do have some beautiful clothing! In fact, as a petite, pear-shaped woman, Talbots clothes fit me really well! I have a hard time finding clothes elsewhere that fit as well. Good for Talbots for spicing it up a bit, but I hope they continue to also stick to the classics.

  3. Juanita says

    I don’t think Talbots is boring what they are is classic. Great for your everyday work clothing and grounding some of your funky and flashy pieces.Although a bit more expensive don’t sleep on Talbots for your staples.

  4. Colleen says

    There are precious few places where women can find affordable, classic business clothing in a wide range of sizes (i.e., long pants for tall women). Talbots should stick with the classics that has served it so well up to now. A little trendiness is good, but they should be careful about alienating their core customers in favor of fickle teenagers …

  5. Jenn says

    Our Talbots store closed right after the holidays. Though I didn’t shop there a lot, I feel like the store added class to the mall. Now with a sad, darkened storefront and stores like Wet Seal and Hot Topic thriving around where it sat, it sort of cheapens the image of the mall. If I shopped there, it was for a basic, but a good quality one. I have a white button-front from there that I’ll probably have for 10 years, and I can make that look trendy rather easily. I also have a summery shift dress that I’ve had nipped and tucked twice over the years and it still looks great. As I’ve gotten older, cost-per-wear is something I’ve tried to think about more. Sure I may pay $60 for a shirt as opposed to $20, but I’ll have it for more than a season and it’ll look great, as long as I care for it, for years to come.

  6. Tamara Walker says

    They need to really keep their regular demographic in mind when they do these changes so they don’t end up like Liz Claiborne after Isaac Mizrahi did their image over. Liz lost their core customer and couldn’t attract that younger customer because of the stigma of the Liz name. In the end it was an utter failure.

  7. Gigi says

    Talbots has really come a long way. Look at all the publicity they are getting lately- plus the First Lady loves her Talbots! They are a household classic name and def got frumpy old lady but now are coming back into the light with some really beautiful pieces- while still keeping their preppy, classic sophisticated look. Now it has a bit of a kick to it and attracting new customers and giving the regulars a bit of a style make-over…for her own good.

  8. says

    Perhaps the notes above should have some with some details, by younger, they mean 35-45 instead of 45+ …not women in their teens or twenties LOL! I have been shopping for Talbots at a while, and a refresh was in order. Even classic pieces need to be updated, a classic straight skirt from 1980 is not the same shape/fabric etc as a classic straight skirt today. and so far they are doing a great job. I am very happy with the updates, and lots of others in the blogosphere are impressed as well. :-)

  9. Amy says

    My problem with Talbots is their price points, not their clothes. I would absolutely shop there more frequently if they would price their items more appropriately.

  10. Kara says

    Actually, I walked by a Talbots last weekend, and was shocked that I found a couple of the dresses to be really adorable. You aren’t going to find a cropped motorcycle jacket or a romper, but some of the stuff is nice and modern. Also, I read that they polled customers age 65 and up, and THOSE shoppers said that Talbots was for “women older than me.” Yikes. A few updates might be in order…

  11. Jessica D says

    Actually, I like Talbot’s clothing and I’m 26. But I shop there for classic business attire more than anything else. And even though the garments are rather pricey, they are constructed VERY well and will last you for years to come. I just think Talbots should focus more on adding a few unique details to their garments to make them extra special and eye-catching. Forever 21 is all about trendiness, but Talbot’s is more about what’s classic and sustainable. Women who value their wardrobe investments can still appreciate that.

  12. stylishous says

    I’m not a Talbot’s shopper myself, so it would be interesting to see where they go with this. If they can make classic pieces that are still stylish & chic I will definitely take a look.

  13. lauermar says

    Talbots customer of 20+ years here. I’m 51, not 65, and not intimidated by change! It’s financially risky not to update the store’s image. Some of you don’t understand that this doesn’t mean Talbot’s isn’t classic anymore. They have to attract the younger working woman aged 25+ to sustain future profitability. These are updated classic silhouettes and fabrics, not throwaway clothes for teens. The picture layouts, models’ looks and poses are similar to J Crew. The youthful mix of patterns and textures (sequins with denim) are straight out of In-Style magazine. In recent years I’ve been mixing my older Talbots basics with trendy tops & accessories from hip stores like Anthropologie. Now that they’ve modernized, I’ll be back more regularly.

  14. Diana says

    I have spent almost all of my considerable clothes budget at Talbot’s for years. The fit was perfect, the styles very classic, the quality excellent. I won’t be buying anything at all this year. Nothing fits. I’ve tried pants, shirts, tees, jackets, dresses, and it is all ridiculous–not because of the style–I’d happily wear those. But because the fit has changed drastically. Sorry, folks, but we don’t all have legs that are 14″ around the knee. And the petite sizes are no longer petite, since they added about 3+ inches to the length of the legs, and the sleeves are too long. In their effort to make everyone look tall and very skinny (nice for those who are) they have designed themselves right out of the market that has always supported them. My suggestion: continue to try to attract whatever demographic this new stuff is supposed to attract, but continue to provide at least a few of the real classics (jeans, a blazer or two, shirts and sweaters) for those of us who have to look classic on the job!

  15. Ray says

    I am a young person and have always found Talbot’s fashion boring and overly conservative. But I just saw some of their newest spring items and I LOVE THEM! If they keep this up, I’ll keep shopping there. They’ve won me over.

  16. Nancy says

    Many basics (esp trousers) in my closet came from Talbot’s, which has a store in our town. Would love to be able to shop at Talbots to replace some of them.
    Those of us who now find ourselves part of the affluent ‘granny’ demographic (a smaller group than the boomers) seem to have been all but abandoned by quality merchandisers in past couple of years in the mad rush of reinvention! Why throw the baby out with the bath water! Why not keep at least a small offering of well fitting, simple classics. Got excited when Talbots featured Katherine Hepburn (who made long pleated trousers chic) on a cover to introduce their new fits but alas! In past four years-zip.
    Another complaint many customers have is that Talbot’s, since becoming reborn, now FLOODS their customers with e-advertising/sales gimmicks, sometimes several a day, but has not provided an option to receive fewer notices.

  17. says

    I don’t think Talbots is boring what they are is classic. Great for your everyday work clothing and grounding some of your funky and flashy pieces.Although a bit more expensive don’t sleep on Talbots for your staples.

  18. 40andfabulous says

    I love Talbots. I’m new to them as well, since I’m new to the demographic. At 45+ I still like fashion-forward styles and I appreciate the classics as well. Talbots has a good mix of both. Of course women who pay attention to trends and know what silhouettes suit them can find suitable clothing in any store, whether that store targets their demo or not. : )

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