NEW YORK — Gene Meyer is charging ahead with his signature better collection at Marshall Field’s, while Target Corp. seeks to sell the chain.
The women’s styles are “more for career dressing, with a little bit of casual on the side,” Meyer said at a showing of the line’s first fall offerings here Tuesday. “A new generation wants to dress up a bit more.”
The collection, which includes men’s clothing, features about 40 women’s styles such as cashmere turtlenecks, rayon and cotton blend T-shirts, stretch silk charmeuse blouses, men’s wear-inspired pants and shrunken blazers. Retail prices in women’s range from $29 to $250, with knits and sweaters priced at $29 to $79 and cashmere sweaters and pants going from $79 to $129.
“Why shouldn’t less expensive clothes be wonderful?” Meyer asked.
Exclusive lines, such as Meyer’s, give stores the cachet of established names and help them differentiate their offerings from those of other retailers. The designer’s role at Field’s mirrors that of Isaac Mizrahi or Liz Lange at Target’s discount stores.
Launched in February, the line is designed by Meyer along with a Field’s team in Minneapolis. The store handles sourcing and production. The arrangement suits Meyer, who isn’t caught up in all of the business details.
“You don’t have the stress to try to see a million different stores and try to always sell the line,” he said.
In March, Target said it would sell Field’s, along with the lower-priced Mervyn’s chain. Federated Department Stores, which includes Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s, and May Department Stores, parent to several nameplates including Lord & Taylor, appear to have emerged as leaders in the pursuit of Field’s. Mervyn’s fate is less clear. Target wants to divest the business by this summer.
On the sale of Field’s, Meyer said, “I really have no idea when it’s going to happen.”
Meyer is focused on design and his love affair with vivid colors, which is on full display in his fall styles.
“I try to establish the silhouette in the beginning, then the most fun for me is the color palette,” said Meyer, who also includes patterns in many of his designs. “I love graphic things. I’ve always had an obsession with the circle.”Circles are incorporated into Meyer’s in-store shops at the 58 Field’s stores throughout the Midwest.
Designing for the region is a natural for Meyer, who is from from Louisville, Ky. “It’s not such a stretch for me to think about this customer,” he said.
After graduating from Parsons School of Design in 1979, Meyer briefly designed accessories at Anne Klein Studio before going to work as Geoffrey Beene’s design assistant for more than a decade. Meyer then went out on his own and eventually established a signature men’s wear house, which closed in 2002.
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