Kipling, Macy’s Launch Partnership

Macy's becomes exclusive distributor for Kipling's handbags and accessories.

Kipling has joined the Macy’s lineup.

This story first appeared in the March 31, 2010 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The accessories brand is partners with the retailer for the exclusive distribution of its fashion handbags and accessories, effective immediately for spring.

Since starting in 1987, Kipling had sold its colorful nylon backpacks and travel bags in multiple points of sale, including Bloomingdale’s and Dillard’s. Now it will focus solely on 330 Macy’s doors before rolling out this fall to 450 units.

Kipling will continue to sell its luggage line in 200 independent stores across the U.S. It will also carry all Kipling merchandise at its seven retail stores.

“When you look at where Kipling is positioned, offering affordable value and style, and where Macy’s is positioned, they are our perfect partner.…Having exclusive brands is very important to Macy’s strategy, so when the opportunity came along, we knew it was one we had to partake in,” said Julie Dimperio, president of Kipling North America, a division of VF Sportswear Inc.

With its colorful nylon styles and under $300 price points, Kipling sits in Macy’s casual handbag group on main floors. Richard Arnstein, Macy’s executive vice president and general merchandise manager for its Center Core division, said the retailer will invest in the partnership by promoting special events and visual representation on the sales floor, as well as through grassroots advertising and social media initiatives.

“We’ve been working with Kipling for a few years and growing the business, and we found that it fills a white space for us in the casual handbag category,” he said.

Kipling is the latest brand to join Macy’s exclusive roster. The retailer is offering labels ranging from Tommy Hilfiger and Rachel Rachel Roy in apparel to Martha Stewart in home and lifestyle.

“It’s been an initiative by our company to get exclusives in order to distinguish ourselves from the competition, so we are always open to new opportunities,” Arnstein said.

To celebrate the partnership, Kipling launched the Kipling Color Jam Tour, a five-week music-themed event at select Macy’s doors.