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Macy’s is upping the volume on its Alfani men’s private label for fall.

The retailer will reveal today that it has signed a one-year deal with singer-songwriter Ne-Yo to be the face of Alfani Red, the contemporary component of the brand. The association is expected to be unveiled at a press conference at the Metropolitan Pavilion in Manhattan this afternoon.

This story first appeared in the August 11, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The entertainer will be featured in print advertising in fashion and lifestyle magazines including GQ and Details starting with the September issues. His image will also be used on the Macy’s Web site as well as on in-store marketing materials. Store windows in New York, Chicago and San Francisco will be devoted to the new affiliation this week, as will the Jumbotron on 34th Street outside Macy’s Herald Square flagship.

The company declined to provide a dollar figure for the cost of the campaign.

Macy’s became enamored with Ne-Yo — who wears suits, ties and hats on stage and whose latest album and Web site are named “Year of the Gentleman” — when he performed during the retailer’s West Passport event in San Francisco last year. “This is where we conceived of the idea of a dapper, well-dressed man representing Alfani and we were impressed with Ne-Yo and his style,” said Nancy Slavin, senior vice president of marketing for the Macy’s Merchandising Group.

Ne-Yo said after he was approached by Macy’s management, who “thought I would be a natural fit for Alfani Red,” it didn’t take him long to sign on. “When I saw the amazing quality of the clothes and then learned about their involvement in charity work, I knew it would be a great combination,” he said.

“It’s been some time since we created a marketing message for this brand,” Slavin added.

In recent years, Macy’s has created alliances with celebrities including Donald Trump, Martha Stewart, Jessica Simpson and Mariah Carey, who were featured in the retailer’s last holiday advertising campaign. Many of those names, who have brands sold at the store, will be featured in the fall ad campaign as well. Although Ne-Yo will “debut through this campaign,” Slavin said she expects he will join the other stars in spring ads.

The still images for the ads were shot in Prague by fashion photographer Walter Chin. A set was created that replicated a concert setting, and video was shot at the same time. Behind-the-scenes vignettes from the shoot will be featured on Macy’s Web site starting today. They could also form the basis for a national television campaign, Slavin hinted.

In one clip, entitled “Style,” Ne-Yo said he patterned his look after “the whole Rat Pack” of Frank Sinatra, Joey Bishop, Peter Lawford, Sammy Davis Jr., and Dean Martin, saying they were “dressed to the nines. It wasn’t contrived, it was effortless cool.” The clip, which features his music in the background, ends with the tagline: “This is Ne-Yo for Alfani Red, available only at Macy’s.”

The singer said: “I like to think my style is about an effortless cool both on stage and off. Style is not just about what you’re wearing; it’s also how you wear it and the confidence you exude. I strive to look sharp and feel great in whatever I wear, ranging from a T-shirt and jeans to a suit.”

As a result, the Macy’s team believe he is a natural fit for Alfani Red. “He is the muse who will evolve this brand,” Slavin said.

Alfani is Macy’s top-selling men’s brand, according to Stuart Goldblatt, executive vice president of Macy’s Private Brands. The label was launched in 1985 and Macy’s unveiled a subbrand, Alfani Red, to target the more-contemporary customer for spring. “We continue to evolve the line and created Alfani Red to appeal to a younger customer,” said Goldblatt.

“Tailored clothing is the foundation of Alfani Red, and where it had its initial success,” said Tom Papantonio, group vice president of men’s and children’s design. “But now we’re launching sportswear.” The label will now be carried in categories ranging from shoes and underwear to outerwear.

The suit separates feature a slimmer, more athletic silhouette and flat-front pants. Sportswear offerings include sweaters, vests, T-shirts, denim and sport coats. Ties are slim, vests are pleated or embroidered, and denim is black.

Prices range from $325 for a suit jacket and $60 for jeans to $45 for dress shirts, $39.50 for neckwear and $150 to $225 for outerwear.

In all pieces, there are details such as red-pick stitching on jackets, red on the underside of buttons, and red satin labels on the outside of sport coats. There is also red piping on the belts. “The Alfani Red DNA is in everything we’re doing,” Goldblatt said.

Labels on the garments and in-store will detail the characteristics of each product, describing the fit and quality attributes.

Clothing debuted in February in 100 doors and will be featured in over 600 doors for fall. Sportswear will be rolled out to around 400 stores for the upcoming season.

This week, shops for Alfani Red will debut in Herald Square as well as other high-profile Macy’s units including Union Square in San Francisco; State Street in Chicago; Minneapolis; Lenox Square in Atlanta, and Dadeland in Miami, Goldblatt said.

“We know this customer is in our stores and we’re positioned to sell him highly desirable, commercially successful and viable product,” he added.

Ne-Yo will make personal appearances in support of the brand at events including Glamorama in Chicago and a GQ event in New York in October. He will also be raising awareness for his charity, The Compound Foundation, which aids underprivileged children.


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