Victoria’s Secret is ramping up its store transformation plans.
The lingerie and beauty trade previously revealed that it was giving its stores a final makeover, complete with plus-size models, new marketing materials, soft lighting, mirrors, and bras. Now the retailer is going one step further with the VS Store of the Future, whose first quietly opened at the Harlem Irving Plaza in Chicago last month.
The redesigned space – located at 4104 North Harlem Avenue in Norridge, Ill. , suburban Chicago shopping center – is a LEED (green rating system) registered storefront with an open floor plan, beauty bar, a selection of gender-neutral products, updated fitting rooms, added technology and plenty of soft touches, like the pale pink palette, Curvy floors, brass finishes, flashing lights and curved walls.
“It’s the opposite of intimidation,” Albert Gilkey, Victoria’s Secret senior vice president of store design and construction, told WWD in an exclusive interview. “This concept is about femininity, openness, and community.
“Some ideas we heard from the client [was that] They wanted clear mobility, clarity of space, and an exceptional experience in the fitting room and [updated] Exit and technology in the new space,” “So we knocked down the walls. We’ve opened it up so you can really see and feel comfortable and confident going into our stores. [In the past]We were known for a monolithic storefront, but we wanted to heat it up – open it up. You can search in our stores [now]. You can actually see from the front of the store and the product is really key and focus. Everything is new: new materials, new finishes. It’s a more open and welcoming environment and easier to navigate. It was really about redefining what that lightness, that brightness for the client and for the experience means.”
Ostensibly the store contains all the components of a modern and culturally relevant space. In fact, Greg Younes, CEO of Victoria’s Secret Beauty, said that Bright Black and white photos of former Victoria’s Secret Angels, Dark walls and skinny mannequins have been stripped from all of its 933 company-owned stores.
“We are in the midst of a major transformation and creating a space that inspires women with products and experiences that they elevate and advocate for,” Unis said. “This is at the epicenter. This is what we focus on.”
He added that VS Store of the Future “is a physical experience of what we do as the brand evolves. We wanted it to be light and airy, upbeat and original and create a sense of community.”
At the Chicago VS Store of the Future, shoppers enter the 8,300-square-foot space through a single entrance, the Victoria’s Secret and Pink brands on either side, connected to a central beauty bar.
“Historically, what we’ve said to ourselves is that she’s shopping with you and she’s shopping lingerie separately; there are two separate customers,” said Becky Bringer, CEO of stores at Victoria’s Secret. “But what we find in this new space is that customers are shopping everywhere. They want to experience the entire store and this beauty parlor gives them the opportunity to do so. It’s a really great community feeling that happens because clients can navigate Pink and Lingerie through this beauty parlour creating such great energy. [In the past]Customers were often intimidated by our stores because it was like a sea of bras, it was dark and it was hard to shop. Now you see these wonderful transactions come to life in the middle of the store.”
Other details include records (which were hidden in the back of stores and hard to find) now scattered throughout the store, digital catalogs in dressing rooms, space to buy online, store pickup and larger drawers – for the largest variety of sizes.
“The drawers are built so we can place them differently [larger] Behringer explained that the sizes of their bras. “The bottom drawers are a bit deeper, which gives us the opportunity to add different sized bras that we’ve added to our assortment. We haven’t had the physical ability to do this in the past because the drawers didn’t fit the larger cup sizes. The drawers are a better use of space and this gives us the flexibility to keep looking to our assortment and offer more variety in size to our customers.
“We are testing other sizes in stores and will continue to add additional sizes,” she added.
Currently, Victoria’s Secret carries up to 38 ranges in stores, 40 in select locations, and cup sizes up to F. (G-cup sizes are available via the brand’s e-commerce store.) The panty band also gives way to XXL panties. in stores.
“A year and a half ago, we didn’t even carry an XL in our stores,” Behringer said. “And now, in lingerie and pajamas, our collection will hit the XXL.
“One of the things we hear our clients say is that they didn’t know we had a 38 second pregnancy before. Now that they’ve seen [plus-size] The models in the store, they’re more conscientious.” “So the models point out that we have a wider assortment in size. And some of these sizes we have carried for years, but they did not connect with them because of the models we showed in the store [before], or the models we used in our marketing. Our photos really give us a chance to connect with clients we haven’t communicated with before.”
The same can be said about the use of male models and a selection of gender-neutral products in pink, which Gilkey said helps make the brand “more relevant.”
“We do a lot to tell that story [on social media]“But we can amplify that in-store with various mannequins and extended sizes,” Gilkey said.
Meanwhile, Behringer noted that the store’s fitting rooms are another testing ground, with their plush pink sofas and phone charging stations, allowing shoppers to sit back and relax for a while.
“It used to be that the fitting rooms were really dark and you couldn’t actually see yourself because we kept it so dark,” Behringer said. “So lightening the fitting room was a very powerful experience for the client. This becomes a social hub. The activity in this space and the energy in this space, it’s almost like a party there, because clients are having fun; they are with colleagues. They come in groups.”
Added technology in dressing rooms — such as RFID-enabled hooks attached to screens — allows shoppers to view the entire assortment of the retailer in multiple languages, including sizes, colors, tech features, and what’s available, while trying out products. It also allows consumers to order from the store and have it shipped to their homes, as well as enabling them to interact with sales partners as they wish.
“Not everyone wants that kind of conversation [in a fitting room with an associate], especially with intimate products,” Berenger said. “So she can come in here and just quietly scroll and understand what bras are in the lineup for her and the group they’re trying to build. It puts the experience in their hands and then our colleagues are able to meet the client’s needs. This is one of those components of meeting her where she wants to be, versus just assuming we know what she wants. This helps us create a better versatile customer experience.
“And we totally hear from some of our younger customers that they like this because that’s the language they speak, and that’s the way they communicate, often through their screens. So, it’s more comfortable for them.” “This tool is a total game changer for us with both the selling experience and the service experience.”
Bringer added that the company will continue to follow site regulations regarding COVID-19-related safety measures, such as opening only every other fitting room and recording in order to maintain a physical distance of at least six feet. Currently, Victoria’s Secret does not have a company-wide vaccine or mandates for masks, but instead “follows local regulations and obviously stays close to what the updates will be,” she said.
Victoria’s Secret began updating its store fleet earlier this year, as part of the company’s larger transformation strategies, which have included the Lingerie, Beauty and Pink brands. Transforms into a standalone company in August, separate from the Bath & Body Works brand, as well Squad UpdateAnd re-arrange the board of directors and VS Collective launch, with Notable personalities, such as Naomi Osaka, Elaine Joe, Megan Rapinoe, Priyanka Chopra, Bella Hadid, Paloma Elsacer and Valentina Sampaio.
Unis said the perennial store is the first of three. The other two — in Houston and Birmingham, Ala — are slated to open in January.
“This is a pilot for us,” he explained. “This is the first new store format that we’ve created in several years and we wanted to make sure it was right for it before we took it out to wider areas. We have plans to modernize our fleet and that’s going to be what it looks like. But we wanted to do it in a place where we could educate ourselves. We’re getting reactions [right now] And all indications tell us that it responds really well. But there are little things that you want to do to master things, and then we’ll expand and move into wider geographies. And Chicago is a really strong market for us.”
Unis has not commented on recent revenue, saying only that the company has been “happy with the holiday” so far. Sales topped $1.4 billion last quarter, Helping the company achieve $75 million in net profit. In November, Victoria’s Secret also revised its full-year revenue guidance up about 25 percent to between $6.7 billion and $6.8 billion, despite continued supply chain headwinds that have plagued the entire retail industry.
“Shopping malls were crowded; “Sure, people are out and shopping,” Eunice said. I think people are safe and I think people are wearing masks, but they still want to give gifts. Christmas is still happening this year.”