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PARIS — Macy’s is bringing Paris style to the masses with the launch of Maison Jules, a new private label inspired by the Stateside success of French contemporary brands.
This story first appeared in the May 14, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The department store will launch the women’s wear line in August in 151 of its top doors. The fall collection, featuring everything from striped knit tops to flirty polka dot dresses, will retail from $17.50 for basics, with dresses and woven tops beginning at $59, and pants costing upwards of $44.
Nancy Slavin, senior vice president of marketing, Macy’s Merchandising Group, said the line was part of Macy’s ongoing push to expand its contemporary business under the Impulse umbrella. Maison Jules will sit alongside brands such as Bar III, Kensie and Rachel Rachel Roy.
“We have been looking at the influence of the invasion of all these French brands that are coming and making an important appearance in the States, whether it’s Sandro, Maje, Zadig & Voltaire or Comptoir des Cotonniers,” Slavin told WWD.
“And while they are still limited [in] distribution, they are influencing and bringing the Parisian street style to the United States. And I think our young contemporary girl is very, very aware of these brands,” she added. “So we’re building a collection that really sort of emulates what this classically French chic ingenue has in her wardrobe, and we’re bringing it to Macy’s.”
Styles include tops with a vintage bike print, floral skirts and animal-print dresses, with a color palette including burgundy, peach, navy and yellow.
The line is aimed at women aged 18 to 30, a group that Slavin described as increasingly nomadic and sophisticated. She hopes Maison Jules, which will also be sold online, will eventually be available nationwide.
“When we launch brands, we go slow to go fast. So this is going to be an all-door brand at some point,” Slavin predicted.
With an eye turned to social media, Macy’s has enlisted blogger Garance Doré to shoot the visuals for the Maison Jules campaign, starring French “It” girl Jeanne Damas. The retailer plans to create a dedicated micro Web site for the brand, in addition to organizing a launch event during New York Fashion Week.
“We also know that we need to be prospecting and we need to be public, so using the social media outlets of Jeanne Damas and Garance Doré will be important, because they have followers and they have devotees that are not Macy’s shoppers,” Slavin noted.
Doré shot the campaign in Paris last week, against backdrops including the Eiffel Tower, the Palais Royal and the bookstalls along the Seine River. Taking a lunch break on the Place des Vosges, she noted that Damas was very much like the girls she regularly approaches for her blog.
“I know that girl. She’s, like, my younger sister,” Doré said. “If you look at my blog, it’s really the type of people that I like to shoot. I think the little dress is really like what the Parisian girl would wear every day, because it’s easy.”
Doré, who lives in New York with her partner Scott Schuman, aka The Sartorialist, noted that French women tend to be less polished than their U.S. counterparts.
“I think that what fascinates American women is the easiness of the French style,” she mused. “We’re less into the trends. We’re more into what really looks good on us.”
The diminutive Damas, who is studying to be an actor, got her modeling start alongside her mother in a Comptoir des Cotonniers campaign and has since appeared in ads and short films for Lacoste, Petit Bateau and Costume National, among others.
She confessed that modeling the Maison Jules outfits was not much of a stretch. “It’s very Parisian, very fresh, so I could easily picture myself wearing these kinds of clothes,” Damas noted.
Macy’s plans to eventually extend the line from women’s to other categories, such as men’s wear, accessories or home wares.
“The name Jules is sort of dual gender,” Slavin explained. “We’re always thinking about a master brand strategy as being all-encompassing to all the possibilities of the lifestyle.”