This blog was furnished by our Nashville-based Account Manager, Kirsty Hughan.
I’m in love and I don’t care who knows it!
My sweetheart? The flagship store of a soon-to-be big time brand called Lou & Grey.
You may be familiar with the name. If you are an Ann Inc. fan, you’ll have seen the name on some of their clothing’s tags at Ann Taylor Loft. Lou & Grey started off as a line within Loft and has now branched into their own division under Ann Inc. The new retailer is slowly opening brick and mortar spaces throughout the country, positioned as a “tomboyish fusion of active and street wear, or ‘lifewear.’”
But this post is not about style—and trust me I could go on and on about how much I love the style—the post is about how the decisions of the brand tapped into ongoing trends in technology and buyer behavior to develop a retail environment that’s both fresh and effective.
The first trend the retailer noticed and ran with was active-wear. Traditional retailers like Urban Outfitters and Tory Burch, among others, have launched their own active-wear lines in the past few years based on the success of fitness brands like Lululemon and Under Armour. Beyond that, the clothing line draws from the way modern women dress: focused on comfort, switching outfits seamlessly from day to night and valuing fit. That translates to natural fabrics, beautiful neutrals and fit perfect for any body type or age. There was a hole in the market, “lifewear,” and Lou & Grey filled it.
Next up, mobile POS. Lou & Grey has the benefit of opening brand new stores, meaning brand new POS software, while harnessing the deep technology already present in Ann Inc., namely their CRM. Open the door to the flagship store and you’ll find clothes on wall racks to either side, a long table with folded items and at the very end a beautiful, curated table. On that table? Accessories, books and a sheaf of tissue. Worked in retail? You’ll see a traditional Cash Wrap missing one item: a clunky computer powering POS. That’s because Lou and Grey’s point-of-sale is stealth, iPad powered and easy to move through the store. This not only declutters the space, increasing the easy going feel of the brand, it makes customer interaction easy. Need to do a quick ring up in the dressing room? No problem.
But my personal favorite trend Lou & Grey builds upon is the re-valuing of local artisans. Integral to the brand is the Makers Movement, Lou & Grey’s curated collection of third-party vendors focused on their craft. The Westport store features makers from throughout the country, with a larger focus on vendors from New York and Connecticut than their Texas store, who focuses more highly on—you guessed it!—Texas. Next to each maker’s items is a beautiful, hand written card featuring the name of the maker, their location and a description of why they come highly recommended. Talk about educating the consumer, and the sales associates. As someone easily swayed to shop locally instead of with a large chain, this personal touch wins me over and increases my brand loyalty.
What strikes me about each and every one of these trends and executions is the ease by which Lou & Grey integrates them into a retail space. As big brands grapple with how to capture customer attention and launch challenging technological tools, it is refreshing to see a retailer focus on a few key trends integral to their brand. Now you know more about my sweetheart I wouldn’t be upset if you fell just a little in love too.