Striking a fine balance between caution and aggression, this year's Apparel Top 50 companies are carefully managing costs and inventories while continuing to invest in their strongest brands and businesses, going social and expanding internationally, to drive growth and gains in market share.
No. 1 The Wet Seal
It certainly has an air redolent with “turnaround,” but the specialty
retailer’s No. 1 positioning on the Top 50 is nonetheless a bit deceiving:
the 209 percent spike to its net income and the soaring profitability
numbers that it produced were the result of the reversal of a valuation
allowance against net deferred tax assets, to the tune of $71.3 million.
Still, the retailer of fashion apparel to teen girls is one to watch: Wet
Seal’s phenomenal developments in mobile e-commerce and social
media have tapped directly into its digitally savvy customer base (see
Apparel, April 2010, for more on the company’s mobile strategy), while
recent focus on improved assortments and more fashion items is showing
results, with first quarter 2010 comp-store sales up 1.5 percent at
Wet Seal and 4.8 percent at Arden B over the same period last year.
The company also deserves kudos for maintaining a strong cash position
($170 million) and a low level of debt.
No. 2 True Religion Apparel
I used to think “True Religion” was about praying that you’d have some
money left over after purchasing a pair of the brand’s jeans, but now it’s
become eminently clear that the gods of consumerism are squarely on
the side of this phenomenally and consistently profitable company.
Maybe it’s the huge, thick thread stitches, which impart a unique look
to the denim while adding to the garment’s strength. But whether it’s
the fit, the distinctive styling, the store experience, the brand cachet, or
some combination of it all, the brand continues to please — in department
stores and boutiques and across 50 countries. This year True Religion
continues to spread the Word, opening its first store in the United
Kingdom last month with a location in London’s Covent Garden shopping
district, to be followed by stores in Tokyo and Toronto.
To read about all of the Top 50 companies, download the report now.
The Apparel Top 50 for 2010
The Apparel Top 50 for 2010: Rankings by Social Media Popularity