By  on September 25, 2007

Lord & Taylor's strategy to promote American design talent takes a first step this week with the debut of its exclusive Bryan by Bryan Bradley collection.

The fall line will be sold at 19 Lord & Taylor stores, with the first delivery offering 14 styles, including knits and wovens, with prices ranging from $35 for a T-shirt to $550 for a fur vest or winter coat. The bulk of the items, which have begun to hit selling floors, will retail from $150 to $300.

"We expect this to be a long-term relationship," said Jane Elfers, chief executive officer of Lord & Taylor. "I really think there is a big opportunity to grow a meaningful business with Bryan in years to come." Elfers declined to project sales volume for the collection.

Elfers said Bryan by Bryan Bradley offers "really beautiful sweaters, blouses and sequin outfits, filling a void for designer product at contemporary price points that's feminine but for a modern woman." The collection is being housed near Vivienne Tam, Anna Sui, Jill Stuart, BCBG Max Azria, Nanette Lepore and Cynthia Steffe.

Lord & Taylor plans to establish a distinct in-store shop for Bryan by Bryan Bradley in time for Christmas selling, which will be marked by a heart-shaped area rug with the Lord & Taylor and Bryan Bradley names on it, shelves that mimic those in Bradley's home and a range of product that changes monthly and develops beyond women's apparel to include men's wear and gifts, such as key chains, books and even beach bags, according to Bradley, who owns and designs the Tuleh collection and is creative director for Bryan by Bryan Bradley.

"It's important that we don't get stuck being just contemporary sportswear," said Bradley. "We want to be more of a store, more a gift resource. I like the idea of having men's wear and baby blankets. This won't be a balanced collection every month. It will be radically different each month...with various inherent promotional possibilities" tied to holidays, seasonal moods, vacation destinations and other themes.

"But the larger point is to make the act of buying the gift a pleasant experience rather than a torture, and have eye-candy pieces she can't resist for herself: a teeny-tiny fur jacket, a tulle party skirt, matching hat, gloves and scarf."My fundamental mission besides selling great-looking clothes for women and their husbands and their kids, and offering everything else in the process — cool, small gifts, shoes, limited editions for your house, occasional books — is to evoke a vision of eastern seaboard America," Bradley continued. "An everyday and everyman formality or pride....For me it has to do with a formality that's been missing from fashion in general for a long time. It's not an uptight formality, but if it's Easter Sunday, let's get dressed up for the occasion. People don't need another denim-based line."

Bradley said the spring collection is almost finished, and he's already working on pre-fall. He's also helping revive the signature Lord & Taylor rose. "I'm obsessed with the rose," he said. "The Lord & Taylor rose was never a standard rose. I like that, and I like to shift its look according to my own devious needs. I've got it on everything — T-shirts, cocktail dresses, pretty blouses and, depending on what it's on, I like to change the nature of it slightly."

What is changing dramatically is L&T's exclusive offerings and designer affiliations. Aside from Bradley's contribution, Joseph Abboud is taking design responsibility for all of the store's private label men's product, and his impact will be felt next fall. Also, Charles Nolan is re-creating L&T's Kate Hill bridge private label for spring and L&T's parent corporation, NRDC Equity Partners Ltd., has taken stakes in Peter Som Inc. and designer Cynthia Steffe, providing further exclusive product opportunities.

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