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Nordstrom's Comeback Continues With Focus on Cheaper Fashion

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Photo via WWD
Photo via WWD

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Nordstrom has taken great pains to amp up the brand's fashion appeal in the past year, from an exclusive Jason Wu collection to a partnership with Topshop and some innovative e-commerce ideas. And according to WWD, all that effort is starting to pay off for the department store, where women's apparel was a top-performing category last quarter for the first time in a long time.

"It's a dramatic change in the merchandise offering. The goal is to help attract customers we didn't have an offering for before," by keeping it fashion forward, making prices generally more accessible and adding "aspirational" offerings, President Blake Nordstrom told WWD during a conference call.

A big part of that strategy is the revamp of Nordstom's Savvy department, which, in its heyday, was a beacon of mid-range contemporary designers in an otherwise barren mall landscape. But the department hasn't been serving the store well in recent years, and it's being rejiggered for a younger, trendier customer.

Brands like Marc by Marc Jacobs and Joie have been relocated to other parts of the store and replaced by more affordable, trend-diven labels like MinkPink, ASTR, Mural, and Viva Vena!, Vena Cava's diffusion line, along with two house brands, Leith and Tildon. Prices now range from $19 to $98.

So basically, Nordstrom is relying on diffusion lines, high-street brands, and fast-fashion pricing to appeal to a younger customer. And if all continues to go well, we can expect to see more of that: "We anticipate continued improvement in the women's business in 2013 and expansion of Top Shop in stores," Blake Nordstrom told WWD.

In related news, the Nordstrom's gradual termination of their in-store piano players is starting to make more sense.
· Nordstrom to Pump Up Rack, Online [WWD]
· Topshop Will Cautiously Go Where Zara, Uniqlo Won't: US Malls [Racked]