Jeff Lotman unveils Fred Segal's plans for 2023
Jeff Lotman, successful founder of Global Icons, the world's largest independent full-service corporate brand licensing agency with offices in Los Angeles, Detroit, London and Hong Kong, acquired Fred Segal's fashion brand and stores in 2018. An iconic brand in Los Angeles, which the U.S. retailer now wants to develop worldwide. An ambitious project coupled with the upcoming opening of new stores and the development of stores exclusively dedicated to jeans.
FashionNetwork: Why is Fred Segal the right brand to bet on?
Jeff Lotman: After 25 years of representing a wide variety of brands such as Lamborghini, Aprilia and Citroen, there was something frustrating about seeing customers come and go. My lifelong dream was to be able to buy and dedicate myself to an iconic brand. As an entrepreneur, you want to make a name for yourself because of something special. Fred Segal was the perfect example. A brand that Californians, Americans, a part of the world and the entire retail industry, respects. A brand I've been a fan of since the early 80s. A brand that has never had a financial drama and that allows you to express yourself vehemently.
FNW: At the time of the Fred Segal buyout, your company was announcing the opening of 20 stores worldwide. Where do you stand?
J.L.: Fred Segal has strong global awareness. The company is continually growing. No other brand represents Los Angeles and the cool California lifestyle better than we do. Recent openings in Malibu and Studio City are already doing very well and we are looking for new locations to open new stores. Not only in Los Angeles, but also where we have our best e-commerce sales, on the California coast but also in Florida or Texas. We also just opened our first pop-up in New York, a good test before considering opening a permanent store.
FNW: You talk about a global expansion. Could the European market interest you?
J.L.: A few years ago, we launched a study on what 'Los Angeles' represents abroad. And the resonance of the city is enormous around the world. So Fred Segal naturally has a card to play everywhere. As for Europe, we should open our first stores in 2024 and we are working on finding the best partners. Europe is surprisingly, a market we have to bet on. Italy, Germany and the UK are the three countries that interest us and where the brand resonates the most.
FNW: About the Asian market, with what ambitions do you want to develop this market?
J.L.: We have the same ambitions as in Europe with store openings planned for 2024 in Asia. Fred Segal has been present in Japan since 2013. Our first store outside of the U.S. opened in Tokyo (editor's note: the Fred Segal store closed). And even though Japan's market suffered with the Covid crisis we will continue to be present in this market. The other interesting Asian country is Korea, with a first store opening in 2021 in partnership with Hanwha Group.
FNW: Among the best sales are those of the 'Jean Bar'. How will you capitalize on this success in the coming years?
J.L.: Before the end of the year, we will open our first store exclusively dedicated to jeans. Last March, we relaunched the Jean Bar in our stores, a concept that founder Fred Segal created in 1961. The name is trademarked and we are ready to expand. Our idea is to keep it simple and effective by opening up spaces with large shelves that carry a highly-curated assortment of denim choices cut-loved brands including Good American, Ganni, Re/Done, Frame, Knorts, among others.
FNW: How will Fred Segal's brand offering evolve?
J.L: We still have the desire to betting and supporting emerging, elevated, sustainable and premium brands. We try to push the LA look but at the same time, as the brand expands internationally, we want to infuse our selection with other designers from all around the world. My dream is to be able to represent both local and international designer brands. Fred Segal is becoming a global brand and our offering must reflect this richness.
FNW: In August, you launched your first in-house fashion collection. Is the in-house Fred Segal's brand going to expand?
J.L: The Neighborhood Collection is inspired by the diverse surrounding communities that make up the Los Angeles metropolis. It adds to our extensive collection of accessories, homewear and lifestyle products such as tote bags and mugs. Our stated goal over the next few years is to have our in-house brand represent 20% of our store sales.
FNW: Fred Segal is also benefiting from your investments, through Global Icons, your branding licensing company, in other fashion brands. After Camp Beverly Hills, can we expect to see other exclusive brands in Fred Segal stores?
J.L: Through Global Icons, I have always wanted to represent Camp Beverly Hills. This classic brand, a symbol of the revival of the sportswear brands of the 80s, embodies the spirit of California cool. I waited six long years to convince the owners, and the purchase of Fred Segal gave me the credibility to relaunch and establish the brand in our stores. We will continue in this direction. We are interested in other brands to invest in and distribute.
FNW: You have announced that you want to become a billion-dollar brand with Fred Segal? When are you going to achieve this dream?
J.L: We're definitely going to be. Maybe it won't happen overnight. Maybe it will take five-then years, or seven-ten years, but Fred Segal has the power to become an exceptional label. At a time when some department stores are closing their doors and struggling to stay alive, our multi-brand concept store is becoming more and more appealing. Our expansion is underway, and we are committed to never damaging the Fred Segal's legacy.
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