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A makeover for Talbots

Stodgy fashions. Mixed messages. A corny red door. Industry specialists give their advice for restyling the Hingham retailer.

After spending the better part of a decade trying to engineer a turnaround, Talbots has yet to find the mix of fashion, marketing, and identity that drove its earlier success.

Known for classic tailored suits, houndstooth prints, and red doors, Talbots’ attempts to lure younger consumers with fresh looks have largely backfired, alienating its core customers of older, professional women while failing to gain new shoppers. As a result, the Hingham-based retailer has posted losses in three of the past four quarters; shed more than two-thirds of its stock value in the last year; launched a $50 million cost-cutting initiative that includes layoffs and store closings; and moved to jettison another chief executive.

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