One of the first things Ted Marlow is getting to do as the new CEO of Urban Outfitters is spend some time thinking about brides. The Philadelphia-based apparel retailer started selling wedding clothes online a year ago — on Valentine's Day 2011 — and opened its first bridal shop, called BHLDN, last summer in Houston.
Now, the Chicago Tribune reports, it has just opened a second BHLDN store, in the Windy City, and it “resembles a 19th century European townhouse with 15-foot ceilings, grand windows and a spiral staircase with wood risers and travertine treads."
If this all sounds way old-school, don't forget the Urban Outfitters sensibility (meaning BHLDN's bridal fashions are bohemian and vintage-inspired) and target demographic (hip women in the 20's and 30's). Its second bridal store embodies that slightly rebellious, hip chic, including iPod docking stations in the dressing rooms so shoppers can listen to their own tunes while decking themselves out in bridesmaid dresses and wedding gowns.
Is building out a bridal business, as a separate brand no less, a smart move? The Trib points out that the retailer isn’t alone in saying "I do" to the concept.
“J.Crew was among the first chain stores to spot an opportunity to sell bridesmaid dresses, introducing its collection online in 2004 and opening its first free-standing bridal boutique in 2009 in Manhattan.” Ann Taylor, White House/Black Market, Nordstrom, Costco, and Target are other U.S. retailers who have made similar efforts.
Marlow, who spent nine years as brand president of Urban Outfitters, left the company in 2010, but took his place behind the big desk on Feb. 6th after former CEO Glen Senk resigned to take over the same role with David Yurman.
“This is a blast from the past that is giving investors hope that prior management that was successful will bring success back,” Randal Konik, an analyst at Jefferies & Co. in New York, told Bloomberg. “In our view there are still challenges from slowing growth and rising competition.”
Outfitters, Inc., the parent company of Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie, among others, had a 9% increase in net sales to $731 million in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2012, Reuters reports.