Fast Retailing in J Brand strategy shift, stresses commitment but will cut jobs
Japan’s Fast Retailing has announced a “strategic plan to re-articulate the business model” of its premium denim brand J Brand Inc. What that means in practice is that it’s shifting it toward direct distribution, a trend increasingly being seen across the premium brands segment globally.
Beginning with the Summer 2021 collection, J Brand will be distributed exclusively via select direct-to-consumer channels operated by Fast Retailing.
And with the company bringing the J Brand operation more under the umbrella of the wider Fast Retailing business, it means “the current J Brand workforce will be reduced in the coming months in proportion to the needs of a redefined corporate structure”.
The company also said the Los Angeles-headquartered Fast Retailing Jeans Innovation Center (JIC), which opened in 2016, “will continue to innovate sustainable, next-generation denim development and support denim production for Fast Retailing brands globally, including the future J Brand assortment”.
Kazumi Yanai, who’s J Brand chairman and group senior executive officer of Fast Retailing, said the label’s “current business model is not aligned with the vision we have for its future success”. And he added that he expects the shift will “bring energy and focus back to a celebrated denim brand in what has become an increasingly saturated marketplace”.
Yanai also stressed the parent firm’s commitment to the label and to denim in general. “The reality of the denim market today and our ability to figure in it significantly depends on our ability to react and adapt quickly — not only to the marketplace, but also to the changing needs of our customers,” he said. “Ultimately, I believe J Brand will be best served by a streamlined operation, a sharper distribution network and a greater focus on the dynamic lifestyle of the end customer. Fast Retailing's global concept of LifeWear has never been more relevant to us”.
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