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Kenneth Cole Brick-And-Mortar Exit May Set Precedent For Luxury

Fashion, apparel and footwear brand Kenneth Cole is shutting down all 63 of its outlet stores within the next six months, with the brand almost exclusively pivoting towards an e-Commerce only business model. The company will keep two full-price stores open in New York, NY and Arlington, Va.

Although it can be argued that many large retailers are overstored as in-store traffic and sales continue their slow decline, it’s rare for a brand  to take measures this drastic in scaling back its physical presence. While the rationale for Kenneth Cole’s decision hasn’t been made clear, this full-scale store closure now sets a precedent for other high-end fashion brands that feel their overhead costs are simply becoming too great to bear.

Since the fashion designer took his namesake brand private in 2012, Kenneth Cole does not reveal any sales figures that shed light on its financial status. But in an environment where Kate Spade, Coach and Michael Kors continue to fight for consumers that are less enamored with luxury, Kenneth Cole appears to be banking on a more digital-driven shopper experience.

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Kenneth Cole will continue to sell merchandise through other retailers, an interesting departure from Coach and Michael Kors, which have each taken steps to boost brand exclusivity by diminishing their department store presence. Coach is pulling its items from 250 department stores, while Michael Kors will no longer take part in sales promotions.

Marc Schneider, CEO of Kenneth Cole, first revealed the company’s plans in an interview with Bloomberg.

“As we continue on our path of strengthening our global lifestyle brand, we look to expand our online and full-price retail footprint across the globe,” Schneider told Bloomberg. “We need to focus our energies and resources to better serve the consumer on their terms.”

Although Schneider indicated that the brand’s full-price retail footprint may be taken internationally, he didn’t specify where the company would build any potential store locations in the future.

 

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