NEW YORK — Brooks Brothers is about to become a wholesaler.
This story first appeared in the January 27, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The venerable retailer will reveal today that it has created a partnership with Nordstrom to sell its men’s and children’s wear collections beginning this fall. The Seattle-based Nordstrom will carry the Brooks Bros. merchandise in about 30 stores and online.
“We know many of our customers admire and appreciate the Brooks Brothers brand for its heritage and quality,” said David Witman, Nordstrom’s general merchandise manager of men’s. “We think our customers will respond well to it.”
Beginning in July, Brooks Bros. items will be available in select Nordstroms around the country, including in Seattle, Chicago, Dallas and Tyson’s Corner, Va. Paulette Garafolo, Brooks Bros.’ president of international, wholesale and manufacturing, said the Nordstrom buying team purchased product that is targeting “a much more contemporary customer. They bought it in a collegiate, younger way.” For example, instead of the traditional sack suit, Nordstrom will offer slimmer silhouettes in suits, skinny ties, slimmer shirts and campus-inspired sportswear. Nordstrom will also carry the newly launched Fleece collection for boys and girls, designed by Nikki Kule.
The items will sport the Brooks Bros. label and will be merchandised as classifications, Garafolo said. “And there will be big marketing events in 10 key doors” to introduce the offering, she noted.
“This will help us reach a new audience,” she said, “one that is probably 10 years younger than our core customer.”
And since Nordstrom doesn’t carry a lot of heritage-inspired product, “it doesn’t duplicate a lot of what they have on their floors,” she said.
Garafolo said there are no plans at this time to expand the wholesaling initiative, although the deal with Nordstrom is not exclusive. “We’re complete novices at the wholesaling world,” she said. “So we said, let’s start and do it right with one customer. We’re probably two years away from adding any more wholesale business.”
In the early Nineties, the company had attempted to wholesale to independent specialty stores in the States but achieved only moderate success and the initiative was abandoned shortly thereafter.