NEW YORK — “You could throw it up in the air, and it could land on the floor and still all go together.”
This story first appeared in the May 14, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
That’s how Stefani Greenfield described the lineup of QMack, The Jones Group Inc.’s new brand centered around 13 key items with the Millennial customer at Macy’s in mind. The executive, until last month Jones’ chief creative officer and now serving as its global creative consultant, spearheaded the collection from original concept to production after Macy’s approached Jones — already strong partners in the Millennial Rachel Rachel Roy brand — to develop an exclusive line.
“We have been really public about the fact that we’re very interested in pursuing the Millennial customer, and making sure that we have the right product for her,” said Jeff Gennette, Macy’s chief merchandising officer. “We evaluated all the brands we had in our brand portfolio and we saw some gaps. One of the lifestyles that we thought we had opportunity with was ‘the girl next door.’
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“We talked about this girl, and they immediately got it,” he added. “When you walk our Millennial floors, and specifically Impulse, you don’t see a lot of [clothes] she would wear to work. We had a lot of casual and evening, a lot of going-out-at-night clothes, but what she would wear during the day, in a professional environment…that was really a gap for us.”
Enter QMack, based on the name Quincey Mack, a fictional character serving as the muse of the brand. Greenfield had a specific set of inspirations. “It was Blake Lively-meets-Zoe Saldana,” she said. “She was sorority-sister-meets-best-friend. She was a mix between Charlotte and Carrie in ‘Sex and the City.’ We thought maybe we’d give her the last name Mackintosh, but that is too many letters. I said, ‘How about Mack?’ We became obsessed with Q….We thought of all American names and did research on Q names. I said, ‘Her name is Quincey.’ Then we shortened her to Q. Quincey Mack was too much about a person, QMack is about a spirit.”
That sentiment is all-American via Notting Hill and St. Germain, with shrunken blazers, soft bomber jackets, gathered dresses, prep school skater skirts and little cardigans. The line, which will launch at 150 Macy’s doors and on macys.com Aug. 1, retails from $29 to $299. Among the key pieces is an “Admiral Spencer” jacket, $99, which Greenfield styled with a floral sleeveless blouse, $69, and a cargo pant, $89; a textured gray heather shirt, $79, is shown with a black leather jacket, $299, and blue camouflage pants, $79.
It’s the first sportswear brand Jones developed for its portfolio from scratch (its denim division frequently creates new brands).
“If we look back at Jones Group’s history, we have incredibly well-known and well-regarded legacy brands, and we have new brands that are driving a new customer to the portfolio with Rachel Roy, Brian Atwood, Robert Rodriguez and Kurt Geiger,” said Richard Dickson, president and chief executive officer of Jones’ branded businesses. “Quincey is a homegrown, internally developed brand that shows our ability from a creative and design perspective to create a brand. It’s not just acquiring brands and talent, but now we’re leveraging that to create new businesses and new brands in the portfolio.”
Dickson didn’t elaborate on further brands that could be in the pipeline. “We’re going to be very methodical on how we approach and execute product,” he offered. “[QMack is] a milestone brand for the company. We’re concentrating on making sure it’s as successful as we want it to be. That practice and experience will help guide us for the future new brand-development process.”
As for QMack’s marketing, Greenfield and her team developed a playful strategy. “We love the color green,” she said. “We feel that it’s something relatable, and it’s got an international flair. Everything has a handle. She has a ‘Quinterest’ wall. She is on ‘Quinstagram.’ She is a walking omnichannel.”
The hangtags also come with catchy slogans, including “I wear anywhere and everywhere” for outerwear; “Great pants never go out of style” for pants; “The journey is always better in a dress” for dresses; “Skirts are my first love” for wovens, and “I layer and live in” for sweaters.
Jones is expected to name a head of the division soon. Greenfield is likely to continue consulting on QMack’s evolution. “Quincey is my girl,” she said. “She will always be a part of my life on some level, but I feel very confident that my involvement has been so focused and specific on bringing her to life that, with the team, she is going to have a good journey. She has a complete point of view. I will give whatever guidance and help they need.”
Each store will be outfitted with elements of the QMack in-store concept, including a green carpet, a table and a Q wallpaper backdrop.
“We are prepared to really develop this customer and this line for years to come,” said Macy’s Gennette, who declined to disclose sales projections. “We are starting out at 150 doors, and see it going to more doors.”