No hot items. Few new trends. Shoppers are bored and would rather spend on technology or the home.Department stores have been going through that litany of complaints for the past few seasons — and now they’re trying to do something about it. They aren’t only chasing younger customers; now they all want younger, up-and-coming designers, too.Stores from Bergdorf Goodman to Macy’s, Lord & Taylor to Bloomingdale’s are eager to snap up young labels as they rush to inject newness into their selling floors and jump-start women’s apparel sales, which have been on a steady decline for the past few seasons.Their hope is that by offering at least a few under-the-radar brands, it will polish what they already have in their stores.Take Lord & Taylor as an example. Just as fashion week was revving up, about 450 thirtysomethings packed the second floor of the retailer’s Fifth Avenue flagship for the opening of the Brand Assembly concept shop Thursday night. The 1,000-square-foot space, showcasing emerging and advanced contemporary designers, drew a demographic not often seen en masse at the store.“These are designs you’ve probably never seen before. They’re so innovative,” Lord & Taylor’s fashion director Stephanie Solomon said during the Brand Assembly fashion show, coordinated by L&T and Web site Refinery29, further proof that the store is rushing into the modern era.On the runway were strong prints, maxidresses, short skirts with side slits, texture and colorful knit tops with an overall feminine and flirty appeal. The Brand Assembly shop has a rotating mix of 20 creators, 75 percent New York-based, among them emerging designers Calla, Priory of Ten, Michelle Kim, Daniella Kallmeyer, Maria Dora, Saunder, To Be Adored, Etelka and Oliveve. Established designers include Sachin & Babi and Torn by Ronny Kobo. The average ticket is $350, with the range from $60 to $3,000.“They each have their own vibe and can be mixed and matched,” said Hillary France, cofounder, with Alex Repola, of Brand Assembly, which runs a Los Angeles trade show four times a year for contemporary fashion, and helps emerging designers and brands operate their businesses and develop infrastructures.But L&T isn’t alone.“We are trying to create environments that give small brands an opportunity,” Tony Spring, Bloomingdale’s chairman and chief executive officer, told WWD. “It’s not our natural tendency, but it’s something we know is vital to the customer and is part of the history of this brand. It’s something we have done less strongly lately, but we are going back to our historical roots. We need a space for this in every family of business. Ready-to-wear has Paradox. Designer has Elements. Men’s has the Lab.”Back in July, Spring hosted young designers participating in the CFDA Fashion Incubator program, giving them a tour of the 59th Street flagship, then sliders and mac and cheese at Flip, the store’s hip hamburger joint, and conducting a Q&A.“I would love some more hot trends in women’s that we can draft off of,” Macy’s president Jeffrey Gennette said at last week’s Goldman Sachs investor conference. “There isn’t enough newness in the ready-to-wear world right now, that is [the] go-to trend, the go-[to] item, that can really fortify a customer’s reason to come into a store, buy that item and buy everything else that makes that item complete.…Hot trends drive our business, and we’re in a fashion business and we’re a fashion retailer.”Macy’s is making the effort, having established its Designers-in-Residence of the Fashion Incubators program, which provides a select group of designers with work space and guidance for a year, in collaboration with the cities of Philadelphia, San Francisco and Chicago; academic institutions; industry organizations, and apparel firms. The store is also making a major push to market fashions for Millennials, with the French-ingenue-inspired Maison Jules private label among the recent additions to the Impulse department, and Monday’s launch of Ryan Seacrest Distinction men’s tailored clothing and furnishings.Bergdorf Goodman, seeking its own edge, will build a “lab” for emerging designers on its sixth floor, as part of the company’s BG 20/20 vision for overhauling the women’s store.The Council of Fashion Designers of America supports emerging talent through its CFDA Fashion Incubator program.Lord & Taylor in a few weeks will introduce Birdcage, which Liz Rodbell, the president of Lord & Taylor and Hudson’s Bay, said was “an accessory initiative that could have broader legs into apparel as we move forward.” She explained that wardrobing young professionals is a growing opportunity for Lord & Taylor, and that Brand Assembly and Birdcage factor into the strategy.Also at Lord & Taylor, 424 Fifth private sportswear, rivaling Lauren Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Michael Michael Kors and Vince Camuto on the better-price sportswear floor, was launched last February, and the shoe department on the second floor of the Fifth Avenue flagship was renovated and will have a wave of designers, including Vince Camuto and Steve Madden, appearing for the official opening on Wednesday. On the active side, HBC Sport, a private-label activewear collection that includes yoga pants, sweats and T-shirts, is being introduced.“Fashion excitement sometimes comes from new designers and sometimes it comes from the mainstay pillar brands and designers,” Rodbell said. “We have always looked for fresh new ideas and new designers to collaborate with.” They’re just looking harder now.
Breaking News: @louisvuitton's men's artistic director @mrkimjones is leaving the French fashion house after nearly 7 years. Jones joined Louis Vuitton in 2011, following a three year tenure as creative director of British luxury goods brand Alfred Dunhill. Jones is to exit Louis Vuitton after showing his fall 2018 collection for the brand in Paris on Thursday. Read the full exclusive story on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
For men’s fall 2018, @giuseppezanotti drew on elements from streetwear, sport, biker, combat and rock ‘n’ roll. Pictured here are a pair of shoes from the collection, featuring zippers, rhinestones, and silver hardware. Head to WWD.com to see a roundup of the accessories from Milan’s men’s fall 2018 shows. #wwdfashion (📷: Andrea Delb)
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of @ralphlauren’s snowboarding collection, the brand is mining its archives. The iconic brand is reintroducing vintage styles and dropping new designs for a color capsule that will be available in Ralph Lauren stores and @openingceremony on January 25. The capsule will consist of 10 pieces, including the Snow Beach Pullover, pictured here, which is a collector’s item that rapper Raekwon wore in Wu-Tang Clan’s “Can It Be All So Simple” video. #wwdfashion (📷: Tom Gould)
For @rochasofficial’s pre-fall 2018 collection, creative director Alessandro Dell’Acqua channeled the sophisticated and intriguing Catherine Denevue in the film “Belle de Jour.” Polished collarless coats, midi skirts, suits and ’60s graphic motifs were all featured in the collection, adding a sense of discreet luxury. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion
“We tried to produce clothing of that couture quality, but the most daunting part was that we only had a matter of days [to do it],” said costume designer Lou Eyrich, who recreated Gianni Versace’s iconic looks for @americancrimestoryfx. Eyrich searched online retailers and vintage shops for original pieces from the design house and for @penelopecruzoficial, who plays Donatella Versace. Head to WWD.com to read how she created the Versace world. #wwdfashion
Only three months after her stellar debut catwalk season, @kaiagerber has inked her first big design collaboration –– with @karllagerfeld. The collection blends Lagerfeld’s Parisian chic aesthetic and the model’s signature West Coast casual style via RTW, accessories, footwear and more. The #KarlLagerfeldxKaia collection will launch in September with a series of events. Get all the details on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
Harrods plans to remove the famous statue of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed from the bottom of the Egyptian escalators and hand it back to Mohamed Al-Fayed. “We are very proud to have played our role in celebrating the lives of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed at Harrods and to have welcomed people from around the world to visit the memorial for the past 20 years,” said Michael Ward, Harrods managing director. “With the announcement of the new official memorial statue to Diana, Princess of Wales at Kensington Palace, we feel that the time is right to return this memorial to Mr. Al Fayed and for the public to be invited to pay their respects at the palace.” More on the news, with reporting by @loreleimarfil, at WWD.com. #wwdnews