NEW YORK — Club Monaco wants to dress up more than its customers.
The company, which is owned by Polo Ralph Lauren Corp., has designs on their homes with a new collection of pillows, books, vases and electronics. The products are created in-house or sourced from other manufacturers.
The home collection, which occupies a 200-square-foot area in the center of Club Monaco’s 57th Street store here, is being tested in six New York stores. If the test succeeds, it will be rolled out to the company’s 71 units in the U.S. and in Canada.
Club Monaco’s mantra is “well-edited,” and executives use it when referring to fashion, accessories and home items. While the collection is small, it’s merchandised for major impact.
“Hopefully, it adds a layer to the shopping experience,” said Michael Fisher, senior vice president of creative services. “Styling your home is just like accessorizing your body. It’s a reflection of who you are. We are offering a deeper connection between the brand and our clients.”
Fisher said the home items provide a surprise for customers who aren’t expecting to find candles, nesting tables and picture frames.
“It gives the store a sense of adventure,” he said. “You walk into the store and you see clean, modern fashion. You think it’s just fashion and then there’s a discovery.”
Prices range from $5 for a bag of river rocks to $199 for the nesting table set.
There was a time when every designer and specialty chain wanted a home collection. A decade ago, consumer spending moved away from the heavy investment in apparel of the Eighties toward home products. In the last three years, the trend has been moving in the other direction as fashion stakes a greater claim to consumers’ wallets.
Banana Republic discontinued its home collection, although a spokeswoman said the company offers items such as cashmere throws in select stores during the holiday season. Eddie Bauer has seen weak demand for its home products.
“If you accept the fact that your purse or wallet is finite, then it’s almost a trade-off between home fashion and buying fashion for the body,” said Richard Jaffe, a retail analyst at Legg Mason Wood Walker. “For a while we saw a market share shift toward home fashion, and today I would argue we’re seeing a shift back to apparel.”But some chains have made dressing the body and home so affordable that consumers are able to do both. Isaac Mizrahi, for example, recently launched a home collection at Target, where his fashion is sold.
“For the last three or four years as interest rates fell and everyone refinanced their home, people had a big cash windfall,” Jaffe said. “When you get a big check you tend to do big things with it. What the consumer is seeing now is good cash flow. They’re feeling good but the focus is on the little luxury.”
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