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Isabel and Ruben Toledo have teamed with Lane Bryant to launch a capsule collection — a first for the special-size retail chain.
This story first appeared in the October 8, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Their first go-round — a novelty T-shirt and tote bag highlighting Ruben Toledo’s signature sketches — will be in stores for the holidays, with a full collection of ready-to-wear, outerwear and accessories planned for spring. Their alliance with the $1 billion retail powerhouse is a major shift, especially for Isabel Toledo, who has generally been press shy and who, like her husband, gravitates towards more artistically minded projects. Unlike many designers, she opted not to maximize on the publicity generated by Michelle Obama wearing her clothes. After the First Lady wore Toledo’s lemongrass-colored ensemble to the presidential inauguration in 2009, Toledo carried on pretty much as she has for 30 years, preferring to focus on her craft than finesse the art of self promotion.
Fans of the designers will be able to find their Lane Bryant designs in 500 doors and on the chain’s Web site. To tout their collaboration, Lane Bryant and the husband-and-wife design team are planning a fashion show for next year. Unveiling the full collection in the spring is giving Lane Bryant the time to do it right from both a product and merchandising point of view, according to chief executive officer Linda Heasley.
“We’re looking together at all product categories and nothing is being ruled out as a possibility for inclusion down the road. This is a big deal for us and we’re treating it in that manner in every way we can,” she said.
Isabel Toledo said she and Ruben “were intellectually on board from the first moment. Their unique customer base is an inspiring and diverse audience for which we look forward to crafting new and innovative fashions, accessories and even some other categories. We also wish to introduce our vision of color, design, look and style and, with the vast manufacturing capabilities at their disposal, we know whatever we design will be made well and fit and feel marvelous. This seems so natural to Ruben and me and we cannot wait to unveil what we’re doing together.”
Lane Bryant, an 805-unit chain that specializes in sizes 14 to 28, is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Ascena Retail Group. Despite this highly commercial alliance, the Toledos are still working on arty projects. In fact, both will be on hand at Thursday night’s party for newly renovated Lexington New York City. Ruben Toledo has created murals in the Midtown hotel and “After Midnight” cast members will perform wearing costumes designed by Isabel Toledo. Previews for the new musical begin Oct. 18 at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, with Fantasia as the first headliner.