New York & Company has struck a multiprong, multiyear agreement with Kate Hudson, the company revealed on Tuesday exclusively to WWD. The “Almost Famous” and “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” actress will serve as ambassador of the $225 million Soho Jeans franchise and will partner with New York & Co. to develop her own ready-to-wear brand.
“Our customers have been asking for a partnership with Kate for years,” said Greg Scott, chief executive officer of New York & Co. “We believe her star power, style and broad social influence will not only strengthen our relationships with existing customers but also ignite our customer acquisition initiatives.”
There are big plans for the as-yet-unnamed Kate Hudson collection. In addition to being sold at New York & Co.’s stores and e-commerce site, it will also have its own dedicated e-commerce platform.
“We see this as an opportunity to create a brand that can be sold in other places and not just at New York & Co. Our hope is to wholesale the collection,” said Scott. “There’s the potential for additional retail partnerships in the future, which would be a first in New York & Co.’s history.
“We’re going to partner with Kate to create her own digital platform,” Scott added. “The goal with the Kate Hudson collection will be to have [freestanding] stores as well.” Scott, who pegged the annual retail volume of Hudson’s collection at “well over $50 million to $100 million in a short period of time,” said, “We’re partners in the Kate Hudson collection. She wants to create a business and she’s chosen us. All our research and everything about Kate tells me that’s possible. We hope to make this a very important business.”
“It has always been important for me to partner with companies that share my values and creative vision. I love the quality of materials and fabrics New York & Co. uses,” said Hudson. “Their size ranges and affordable price points, along with their commitment to empowering women through fashion makes New York & Co. an ideal partner for me to launch my new collection with.”
The success of other celebrity brands, such as those associated with Eva Mendes and Gabrielle Union, led Scott to rethink New York & Co.’s business model. “We’re evolving into a dominant digital player with stores that creates brands,” he said. “About 30 percent of our business, or $300 million, is done digitally. We have the ability to grow that. Online could be 50 percent of our business.”
Scott hinted that there will be more celebrity tie-ups in the not-too-distant future. “We believe that there are multiple brands that can be created. We purchased in January a very small plus-size company, Fashion To Figure. Right now, it’s a very small business. We believe it will be the next growth vehicle. We’re bringing a social influencer to the brand and will also bring a celebrity to Fashion To Figure. We’ll soon announce something else we’re going to do. The right celebrity and the right partner can activate a brand — and quickly.”
Launching Hudson’s collection as the company moves toward a new direction was fortuitous timing. “It’s where we are as a company,” Scott said. “We’re establishing this partnership with Kate as we’re evolving.” While Scott emphasized digital, he didn’t discount the importance of brick-and-mortar. “We have 425 stores,” he said. “I believe that stores will continue to be an important part of our future.
“We’ll open new stores. What will happen over time is we’ll close stores that aren’t working. We’ve been successful in opening stores for one- or two- or three-year periods.” The ceo sees an opportunity to eventually build Fashion To Figure from eight or nine stores today to 40 to 50 units.
Hudson’s collection will consist of a base of denim; outerwear; dresses for casual occasions and beyond; tops; sweaters; and sportswear. “It’s going to be a full, well-rounded lifestyle collection,” Scott said. “I call it ‘statement casual.’ Kate’s style is very unique and very special and each piece will be unique and special and will embody what Kate is about. We hope these pieces will be coveted.”
Scott described the line as “fashion with a casual edge that’s fun, flirty, happy and has a fashion-forward aesthetic. It’s crystal clear what the collection should and what it will look like. Kate has such a clear point of view and a vision for this collection.”
Hudson, who is expecting her third child this month, has said in interviews that she wanted to get into fashion. “I’m a mom of two, movies take me away for much longer hours than I like as a single mama,” she said last year. As a co-founder of Fabletics, the actress already is a fashion mogul in her own right. The activewear brand, which bowed in 2013, surpassed $300 million in annual revenue in its fifth year in business. Hudson’s New York & Co. collection is a separate endeavor from Fabletics.
“She’s going to get very involved,” Scott said of Hudson. “During a meeting when we were doing the deal, Kate said, ‘Greg knows I’m going to be super-involved.’ I said, ‘I absolutely know that and I’m super-excited about it. We want them highly involved. Kate has a million ideas for silhouettes, prints and fabrics. She’s been wanting to do this for a long time. As a business partner with us, Kate’s going to support her collection in many ways, just like Eva and Gabrielle support their lines, socially, at store events and public relations events.
“Eva and Gabrielle aren’t just putting their names on a collection,” Scott said. “They’re highly involved in the design and aesthetics and they’re incredibly protective of their brands. We want the celebrity to bring to us her world and vision. We don’t want to change the celebrity. What we do well is take the vision of celebrity and bring it to life. I still remember when Eva started in 2013, she said to me, ‘Greg, I really believe in turbans.’ She brought A-line skirts and things to our assortments that we never had before. Gabrielle brings this amazing, chic street style, and without her modeling it, I don’t think we’d sell anything.”
The Soho Jeans collection represents a significant percentage of the New York & Co.’s annual sales. Designed to “fit everyone,” the on-trend fashion denim line’s inclusive sizing ranges from 00 to 20, including petite and tall. “We believe Kate represents the lifestyle of Soho jeans with her downtown attitude. With Gabrielle Union as ambassador of our 7th Avenue line, our comps increased significantly. She really helped 7th Avenue, while at the same time creating her Gabrielle Union collection.”
Scott expects a similar scenario to play out with Kate Hudson. “This is something we’ve been working on for a very long time,” Scott said. “In all of consumer research, Kate comes up as the top talent whom our customer is attracted to, follows and aspires to be.”