First Edit at Bloomingdale's 59th Street flagship in Manhattan.

Bloomingdale's is introducing a store-within-a-store concept, First Edit, which has the sensibility of a trendy multibrand specialty shop.

NEW YORK — Bloomingdale’s is introducing a store-within-a-store concept, First Edit, which has the sensibility of a trendy multibrand specialty shop.

This story first appeared in the March 19, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

First Edit features labels common to specialty retailers but not department stores. Michael Angel, who designs hand-painted silk dresses and blouses, which he ships out of his garage, and 120% Lino, are examples of First Edit’s “very special and unique” resources, said Jeff Binder, vice president and divisional merchandise manager of Bloomingdale’s View department and designer sportswear.

Other brands include Scharke, TeenFlo, Shin Choi, Cortina, Hollywould, Philippe Adec, Biya, Alara and Harari.

The in-store shops are launching at Bloomingdale’s Manhattan flagship and units in Garden City, N.Y.; North Michigan Avenue in Chicago; Boca Raton and Orlando, Fla., and Newport Beach and Costa Mesa, Calif.

First Edit shops encompass about 250 square feet, with the exception of the unit at the Manhattan flagship, which is twice that size.

The aesthetic is sophisticated and modern, but the formula is hard to pinpoint. “There’s not one thing that the brands have in common, other than the fact that something caught the buyer’s eye,” Binder said. “The buyer selects the best of each of the brands and merchandises it from a Bloomingdale’s point of view.”

The retailer has had success with its two store-within-a-store concepts, Quotations and Portfolio, using them to set itself apart.

“We see this whole concept [First Edit] becoming much more important in the future, doing more volume and expanding to more doors,” Binder said. “It’s a great differentiator for us. In this climate, we need to be more special. You will see more in-store shops. This is in its infancy.”

First Edit will be more productive in terms of sales than other parts of the store, Binder said, adding, “We’re testing new ground with this concept.”

Geared to women 35 years old and up, the First Edit customer could be fans of such disparate designers as Eileen Fisher, Missoni and Ralph Lauren Black Label. While Quotations and Portfolio offer casualwear, First Edit focuses on career wear. “You could also find a top for going out on a Saturday night,” Binder said.

Bloomingdale’s is launching First Edit shops with three fashion trend stories: colors of the season, featuring yellow and orange sorbet shades; neutral safari with tans and browns, and black and white. Prices are typical bridge points to aspiring designer prices, Binder said, noting that jackets are $400, pants, $200 to $300 and T-shirts, $50. There are a few items priced over $1,000.

Bloomingdale’s is not doing much to promote First Edit now. But Binder said ads will run later this season. “We’re getting our feet wet in this business,” he explained.