Innovation within Brands: Don’t Ask Why, Space, & Scouted

IMG_1331As the shopping landscape changes, brands are shifting the ways in which they present clothing and accessories (and in some cases, makeup) to make a more enticing and intriguing experience. This innovation is key, as competition between stores rises and everyone wants to capitalize on the “next big thing” in order to make sure consumers keep coming into their stores time and time again.

A quick note: this post has been a long time coming so if some of the topics are slightly outdated – my bad! But as the time passed since this idea developed in my head, I hadn’t seen any blogs cover the topic so I figured I could still get away with it.

Three brand identities are currently progressing with amazing and innovative ideas: American Eagle Outfitters, Nordstrom, and Sephora. Each is utilizing a different concept in order to entice customers, boost sales, and introduce a unique shopping element.

American Eagle Outfitters & Don’t Ask Why

IMG_1332American Eagle Outfitters (AEO) has long been copying the likes of Brandy Melville, but the creation of a new sister store, Don’t Ask Why, helps centralize these “copy-cat” pieces into a set branch of the company. Don’t Ask Why is an online shop and a boutique in SoHo that tie together a new extension for AEO: light, one size pieces in basic colors with little to no prints (beyond stripes or slight polka dots).

I for one loved the environment of the store: clean and easy to navigate. The large selection was definitely a favorite over the less variated Brandy Melville. Although the prices are steeper, the quality is much better and the shopping experience is a lot better – starting first with the fact that the store is a lot more organized, mirroring the American Eagle shopping experience. The employees were so friendly, and were very much embracing the idea of this store extension (which, by the way, in SoHo is only a few stores down from the typical American Eagle).

I typically don’t shop at American Eagle (with the exception of their jeans!), but I do shop at Don’t Ask Why – on that account, this new extension was genius of the brand. Disassociating a proven popular concept from its core reputation will attract a greater set of people – especially because some people don’t even know it is associated with American Eagle, and just see it as a cool, sophisticated New York City pop-up boutique.

Space @ Nordstrom


*photo courtesy of Nordstrom via

Nordstrom is also going for a detached, yet inclusive, new concept with Space, the brainchild of Olivia Kim. Kim was given the name Director of Creative Projects at Nordstrom, and was free to curate a separate boutique that would be stationed next to the high end designers at four flagship stores (and an online boutique as well).

I personally think this is extremely innovative on behalf of Nordstrom, as it makes Nordstrom less commercial and more accepting of smaller, boutique brands. Although not necessarily affordable for the masses, it will attract high end fashionistas or even those who just want a glimpse at more unique clothing items. In a sense, it created a fashion museum (or shrine, if you will) within the walls of Nordstrom. Kim is working to make the area itself look different from the rest of a typical Nordstrom – working to create a whole new aesthetic to reflect the clothes and differentiate it from the classic Nordstrom feel.

I personally enjoy the commercialization of fashion (to a point), but I love the idea of embracing more couture. In a sense, Space is like a  museum to observe beautifully crafted, but actual for sale pieces, as opposed to say, the costume exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Scouted @ Sephora

To embrace new indie brands, Sephora is launching a new program to slowly introduce 40 different up and coming (newcomer, if you will) brands and will roll them out in waves throughout the next eight months. Like the other two concepts, Sephora aims to create a unique way to shop. Especially with makeup counters at department stores, Sephora is always looking for new ways to differentiate itself and this seems to be the perfect way.

Although not necessarily a new shop, or a pop-in, the idea itself is revolutionary. It piggy backs of the likes of Birchbox, but being able to explore the products in-store, without it simply just being sent to you (although rumor has it Sephora is also starting a monthly box system as well) is a great way to test new products on your own terms.

So there it is – a rundown on three revolutionary changes in the shopping world. What do you think?

xoxo, Jamie

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2 Responses to Innovation within Brands: Don’t Ask Why, Space, & Scouted

  1. Nicole says:

    Jamie, This was so well written and insightful. I could totally see it being published on Business of Fashion, or another website of the like. I totally agree with your points here. I think pop-up shops or branches of the parent company are ways for the company to enlarge their target market and really just attract the most customers possible, all while being under the same company the whole time. For example, the American Eagle customer may be a Don’t Ask Why customer, but not vice versa, aka more exposure for American Eagle (because DAW did feature AE jeans throughout their shop!). Again, such a great post, but you know I love everything you write :) XO, Nicole

    • The Fashion Newcomer says:

      Thank you so much Nicole! You are seriously the best – I so appreciate this comment, it made my day!!! And thank you for being the one to tell me about Don’t Ask Why in the first place!
      xoxo, Jamie

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