Kohl’s Corp., seeking to sustain momentum in its burgeoning active and casualwear categories, will start carrying the Eddie Bauer brand at hundreds of stores and online beginning this fall.
Both seasonal and core year-round Eddie Bauer items, in an inclusive range of sizes, will be sold in as many as 500 stores, the company said. For fall 2021, Kohl’s stores will initially sell Eddie Bauer outerwear, fleece and flannel. The offering is expected to grow over time.
Eddie Bauer products will be displayed in Kohl’s men’s, women’s and kids departments, rather than having shops-in-shop displaying all the categories together.
On kohls.com, there will be “an expanded assortment” of Eddie Bauer “favorites,” such as down jackets, parkas, performance bottoms, fleece, flannel and sleepwear.
“The addition of the Eddie Bauer brand into our portfolio acutely aligns with our ambition to grow our active and outdoor business, and attract new and younger customers to Kohl’s,” said Doug Howe, Kohl’s chief merchandising officer.
Kohl’s goal is to drive the active and outdoor categories to representing 30 percent of the chain’s total volume, from the current 20 percent. For 2019, Kohl’s reported $19.97 billion in total volume.
The Menomonee, Wisc.-based promotional department store chain has been building up its activewear business with such mainstays as Nike, Under Armour, Adidas, Champion and Columbia. Recently the assortment of national brands has grown to include Lands’ End, Toms and Cole Haan, while a private-label athleisure brand, called FLX, will debut this March.
Eddie Bauer products are available online at eddiebauer.com and at more than 300 stores in the U.S., Canada, Germany, Japan and other international markets. Howe said Eddie Bauer is “synonymous with outfitting families for any activity or adventure…[and] has a rich heritage of designing authentic, functional apparel that inspires everyone to get outdoors.”
There’s also a technical, innovative side, with many of the Eddie Bauer items featuring moisture-wicking, anti-pilling ultraviolet protection and packable characteristics.
“For more than 100 years, Eddie Bauer has been inspiring and empowering people to live their adventure, whatever that may be,” said Damien Huang, president of Eddie Bauer. “Through quality apparel and gear that is built to last, and together with Kohl’s, we will expand our reach, increase accessibility and bring the benefits of the outdoors to more communities.”
The brand was founded by Eddie Bauer in 1920, originally as a shop for stringing tennis racquets inside a shop that sold guns. He met his wife on a hunting trip and for their first date they went fishing. She was a Washington State champion trapshooter, and the two were longtime advocates for active outdoor activities. In 1940, Bauer patented the first quilted down jacket.
Despite some ups and downs over the years, including ownership changes, store openings and closings, a bankruptcy and shifts in merchandise orientation, the Eddie Bauer brand has endured. Golden Gate Capital purchased the brand out of bankruptcy in 2009.
Last Thursday, Kohl’s said that fourth-quarter performance was boosted by robust digital sales and showed improvement from the third quarter of 2020.
“We are very pleased with the continued progress we are making against the strategic framework we outlined in October 2020. Our fourth-quarter performance exceeded our expectations across all key metrics with sales strengthening as we moved through the period,” said chief executive officer Michelle Gass.
Aside from active and casual sportswear, Kohl’s strategic framework emphasizes beauty, plus stepped up efforts to drive digital sales and innovation.