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Macy’s, Kenneth Cole Upbeat on Collaborations

Working collaboratively — and exclusively — can be a bona fide way to increase sales.

Kenneth Cole’s Jill Granoff, Terry Lundgren, Kenneth Cole and Jeff Gennette.

Working collaboratively — and exclusively — can be a bona fide way to increase sales.

This story first appeared in the October 22, 2010 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“Something very different happens when you have collaborations,” Terry Lundgren said during the launch for Kenneth Cole Reaction at Macy’s Herald Square flagship on Wednesday night. “The business goes entirely to another level.”

Designer Kenneth Cole agreed, describing exclusive collaborations such as the one with Macy’s as “the new partnership model,” which results in higher sales.

Lundgren, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Macy’s Inc., said this has proved to be the case with partners as diverse as Tommy Hilfiger and Rachel Roy, and he expects similar results from Reaction. Since Macy’s started working with the Kenneth Cole team on the sportswear, Lundgren said, “The product has already evolved.”

The sportswear is intended to appeal to “the young, contemporary guy,” Lundgren said.

The retailer initially carried Reaction outerwear, footwear, tailored clothing, dress shirts and ties, pants and accessories, and the brand had had “a track record of success,” he added.

Since hitting the floor last week, bestsellers have included dress pants, sport coats, slim suits and patterned suit separates. Long-sleeve wovens, novelty knits, cardigan sweaters and graphic T-shirts have also been strong, said a Kenneth Cole spokeswoman.

Jeff Gennette, Macy’s chief merchandising officer, said the offerings fill a “white space” in the men’s collections area, a department that has begun to gain traction with brands such as Reaction, Sean John and Threads & Heirs.

“I’m now focused on the young men’s strategy,” he said. “That’s what’s on my mind for 2011.”

On Thursday, Macy’s said that, beginning in February and continuing through the year, the retailer will work with designers to create capsule collections of women’s apparel that will rotate on the floor every two months. The first will be from London designer Kinder Aggugini. Macy’s declined to reveal the names of the other brands in the initiative.