Macy's and the Capsule Collections

April 18 2012

Macys' is making some upscale and perhaps curious choices in their selection of limited collection designers for their Impulse shops. First up was Karl Lagerfeld, then CFDA winner doo.ri, and now Alberta Ferretti. I would say that in these designers are connected in that they are all upscale, kind of dressy, refined, and polished. I was very curious about the Lagerfeld collection and hightailed it over to Macy's very soon after its release into stores only to find that hundreds of pieces remained on the racks at the Herald Square store. Hmmm. So I queried the sales staff at length, who said that the collection did not sell well at all. They said that neither the design nor fabrication worked. When I went back some weeks later the collection was in serious markdown.

Why no ka-ching ka-ching? And why these designers? What is the decision behind the choice to associate the egalitarian Macy's brand with designers who are upscale (that we understand) and slightly unknown by main street USA (doo.ri and Ferretti)? Limited edition capsule collections are meant to reinforce a store's prestige, help the retailer gain traction with new audiences (consumers who might not normally connect with Macy's, for example), and to create a sense of urgency in the buying experience, so that it drives any curious and/or interested traffic to the brick and mortar stores and to the website. 

Then there is Macy's association with the new Fashion Star show. Ack! The fashion on the show is awful, but it's a great PR move, and is definitely driving sales. According to Women’s Wear Daily, the three retailers associated with the store are really pleased with sales as the items from the show are selling out. So here we are again in the realm of high/low, which any readers of my blog know is one of my major interests. What's working better for Macy's? Lagerfeld (advertised and promoted traditionally) or Miss No-Name Designer (with millions of viewers and panelists like Jessica Simpson and Nicole Ritchie)? I would LOVE to see those sales numbers!

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Tailored, Tucked In and Served With a Twist of Nostalgia

April 04 2012

New York has sustained a keen reputation for being a place for anyone, where anything goes, and there are no rules.  There’s been a rise of nostalgia, however, for a time that was a little less loose, albeit just as boozy.  For the past few years, both on the runways and in storefronts, people are dressing up, a la Mad Men or Boardwalk Empire.  The other day, while on an errand in midtown, I couldn’t help but notice just how darn good everyone looks.  Folks are a lot more polished and chic.  It’s certainly not Melanie Griffith in Working Girl anymore.

Along side these trends in fashion, a number of speakeasy style joints, where they serve cocktails as tailored as your shirtsleeves, have popped up as well. On the Lower East Side you’ve got the likes of Beauty & Essex, whose storefront is a vintage pawn shop; The Back Room, where they serve cocktails in tea cups and once a week the DJ only plays Louis Armstrong; and Milk & Honey, where there is no menu -- the waitress orders drinks based on what you like.  As a witty nod to this hood, J Crew men’s wear has fashioned the highly tailored Ludlow suit, named after the street at the center of it all.

It seems the style of late is buttoned-up and tucked-in, which is interesting in a city where there are so few formalities. 

                          
                           Beauty & Essex, 146 Essex St., NY, NY

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