Anna Sui is next up in Macy’s powered-up program of collaborating with designers on capsule collections.
The Anna Sui x INC collection, which will be available exclusively at 25 Macy’s stores and on macys.com in early September, is the latest in an ongoing series of capsule collections, a strategy that is now considered by Macy’s chief executive officer Jeff Gennette as a “third bucket” in the pursuit of exclusive merchandise. Macy’s also has a well-developed stable of private brands such as INC, Hotel and Alfani, and sells exclusively brands such as Tommy Hilfiger sportswear and soon DKNY.
“We’re going to be growing exclusivity,” Gennette said during a conference call with investors last Thursday. “Expect us to have aggressive growth there. We can control it. Our customers expect it of us. It gives us the opportunity to get into a third bucket of growth in exclusivity, which is capsule collections. We’ve had good success with that.”
These capsule collections, also referred to as temporary or guest collections, link to the good name of a designer or celebrity and, like private or exclusive brands, help Macy’s exude newness, seize upon a trend faster and hopefully get a sales lift.
Citing Anna Sui, DKNY and Azrouël as examples, Gennette said, “We believe all of these [collaborations] cement Macy’s as a place to get great fashion — where we can kind of flex our fashion chops.”
Macy’s currently sells the CR by Cynthia Rowley capsule collection and past ones have included Karl Lagerfeld, Kinder Aggugini, Matthew Williamson, Yigal Azrouël and Giambattista Valli. INC has also collaborated with celebrities and fashion stylists over the years, but more so as models for image/ad campaigns and product curations including Heidi Klum, Camila Alves, Kate Young, Max Irons, Tom Stubbs and Gabriel Aubry. Macy’s does not currently carry Anna Sui’s own brand.
Gennette, who became ceo in March and was chief merchandising officer before that, believes Macy’s could do a better job of presenting fashion and new ideas to customers. “We need to own that lane again,” he said. Vendors and brands, he said, “tell us to go faster. Our brand partners want us to come with them with great ideas and insights. They’re ready to lock arms with us. We need to push them to be more creative and them with us, and to share combined opportunities through data and innovation.”
He said Macy’s is working to “amplify the products that [customers] love and can only get at Macy’s” and has strengthened the caliber of its private brand teams. He said they have been working closer with suppliers “on the DNA of each of the brands that they create” and that apparel sales have lately showed improvement, in no small part because of the efforts of private brand teams. “They’ve also taken out weeks in the supply cycle and getting faster introducing product, leading to higher AURs,” Gennette said.
Tim Reid, group vice president of Macy’s private brand marketing strategy, told WWD that “Macy’s overarching fall fashion message this year is ‘western vibrations,’ and no other designer embodies that Americana trend as well as Anna Sui.” He said the designer will bring her “signature whimsy and eclectic edge to INC for this very special collaboration.” She’s known for a romantic rock ‘n’ roll style, fantasy and some darker sides and a signature often associated with black.
The Sui capsule of clothing and accessories is designed by Sui and developed by the INC team. Macy’s said it draws inspiration from Western romance and features feminine prairie accents and hints of glamour with lace details, fringe and embroidered florals. The assortment includes women’s and men’s apparel as well as women’s shoes, jewelry and handbags. Sui has also selected her favorite pieces from the wider INC collection pulling together an “Anna Loves INC” line, which will be sold at all Macy’s stores and on macys.com in early September.
On May 26, Sui will be honored with an exhibition showcasing over 20 years of her work at the Fashion and Textile Museum in London. According to Macy’s, “The World of Anna Sui” will be the first ever retrospective of an American designer to be held in the U.K.
She characterized her collaboration with Macy’s as “a perfect fit,” nostalgically noting, “They were the first department store to pick up my very first collection.”