BARTLETT DOES BON-TON: The Bon-Ton Stores Inc. will today reveal it has signed a license and design agreement with Tharanco Lifestyles LLC and designer John Bartlett for the latter to take over the design of its Consensus private label men’s apparel and accessories collection. The moderately priced line of separates, which will include a full assortment of tailored clothing, sportswear and furnishings, will be available in Bon-Ton stores for fall 2011. The retailer will handle the sourcing, manufacturing, distribution and marketing of the line, which will be designed by Bartlett. Bartlett said he expects to expand the offering into other categories in the future, including boys, luggage and home. “The sky’s the limit.”
Steve Villa, senior vice president of private brands for Bon-Ton, said: “From our viewpoint, we want to upgrade the style and value message to our customer and John is the person to do that.” Last week, the retailer signed a deal with Casual Male Retail Group Inc. for Casual Male to supply big and tall men’s apparel through the store’s e-commerce site and, beginning in the spring, in a limited number of its 277 department stores. Men’s wear accounted for 12.3 percent of Bon-Ton’s sales during the 2009 fiscal year, or about $364 million of its $2.96 billion total.
GOING HOME: For the first time since launching his business four years ago, Jason Wu is finally heading home — and that’s home as in Taipei, Taiwan, where he was born. The designer, calling en route to the airport on Monday, explained it was primarily a personal trip: his brother Kevin is getting married. But Wu, who designed the bride’s wedding gown as well as the bridesmaids’ dresses, is hardly going through the country unnoticed. “It’s been crazy. I was told I would have to prepare at the airport and get private security because there were going to be people following me,” said Wu, who arrives Wednesday. “I’m not used to that. Who am I, Victoria Beckham?”
Perhaps not, but on Thursday Wu sits down with President Ma Ying-jeou for a radio interview to discuss arts and design in Taiwan. He’s also consulting on a new luxury condominium in Taipei, which opens at the end of 2011. “It’s going to be a mix of modern and classic, you know, the aesthetic I’ve built for my clothes,” explained Wu, who’s working on the lobby interior as well as the building itself. “It’s not going to be a sharp, square-looking building. There’s going to be a soft edge to it and a ribbonlike effect going through from top to bottom.” Next week, Wu is also squeezing in a quick trip to Beijing to celebrate his collection with Shiseido’s Supreme Aupres brand, which targets the Chinese market. The eight-color lineup of jewel-toned eye shadows, first seen on his spring runway, will hit stores in November.
CHICAGO LOVES DIOR: Christian Dior is cementing its presence in the Windy City with an in-store Dior boutique in suburban specialty store Neapolitan. Launched last month, the 400-square-foot section showcases the entire Dior collection from ready-to-wear to handbags, jewelry and footwear. Executives from the French luxury line presented Dior’s resort collection during a party at the Winnetka boutique last week when shoppers sought out a $2,900 short-sleeve jacket and $2,600 cream ruffled tulip dress. “Our clients have been responding to the exclusivity of Dior and its luxurious heritage,” said Neapolitan’s owner, Kelly Golden. “With that price point I was a little nervous. But we can’t keep it in the store. Really.” A percentage of sales from the event went to the Chicago History Museum’s Costume Council, which happens to boast the largest collection of Dior pieces in the country.