Private-label line anchors Miller's Outpost relaunch

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Miller's Outpost, a fast-growing apparel chain, this spring breaks its first branding campaign as it relaunches itself under its private-label clothing line, Anchor Blue.

With 225 stores in 14 Western states, but concentrated primarily in California, Miller's Outpost started out as Miller's Surplus before changing to a Western theme. After testing the Anchor Blue positioning, the chain has decided to slug it out in America's malls for a piece of the high school teen pocketbook, particularly those of young women, along with Abercrombie & Fitch, Gap, Limited and others.

"Miller's Outpost had a Western connotation, a campy connotation, which did not communicate as a trend or fashionable," said a marketing official for the privately held company. "Ultimately, we see ourselves as a national retailer," he said.

The decision to reinforce its private-label brand is partly a result of a shift in sales in the store, away from Levi Strauss & Co. products and over to its own line, which has been aggressive in courting teens with early introductions of products such as baggy jeans. "Levi's has taken a back seat to our own brand, Anchor Blue," the marketing executive, who did not quantify the brand's sales, said. The Gap similarly started out as a Levi Strauss brand retailer in the 1960s, and achieved success by focusing on its own private-label product lines.

The ads, from agency Butler, Shine & Stern, Sausalito, Calif., are breaking in May magazines such as Teen People, with the theme line, "It's a free country. Dress accordingly."

Anchor Blue is part of the American Retail Group, the Atlanta-based U.S. arm of a Dutch family-owned firm that also operates the national retail clothing chain Maurice's, based in Duluth, Minn.; Eastern Mountain Sports in Peterborough, N.H.; Levi Strauss outlets west of the Mississippi; Juxtapose, a chain with 20 stores in Southern California; and five Joe Boxer stores.

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