NEW YORK — Eager to project a livelier, more fashionable profile, Kohl’s Corp. on Tuesday unveiled a showroom at 1400 Broadway here where the retailer also has its design offices.
The showroom will spotlight new deliveries of its private and exclusive brands and product launches and be used for press previews and parties. With its shiny white laminate cement floor, directed spotlighting and natural light, the showroom forms a neutral backdrop so the merchandise projects.
“It made a whole lot of sense to invest in a space inside our home so we can share our story,” said Michelle Gass, Kohl’s chief merchandising and customer officer, as she stood in the 4,000-square foot showroom space. Kohl’s New York design office occupies 100,000 square feet.
Gass and the Kohl’s team are preparing for what has to be considered among the chain’s most significant merchandising efforts — relaunching Sonoma in March. Sonoma is said to be the department store retailer’s largest private brand.
The company is also launching 12 Fila outlets in May. “It’s our first endeavor into the outlet space,” said Michael Gilbert, Kohl’s executive vice president of product development. The outlet strategy could be advanced with outlets with other licensed brand partnerships as well as propriety brands. “We are leaving our options open,” Gilbert said.
Another big initiative underway at the $19 billion plus, Menomonee Falls, Wisc.-based Kohl’s is localization, whereby the merchandise at the 1,200 stores will be more edited to better meet the needs and style preferences of local communities.
Discussing Sonoma, Gass said the label “touches more categories in the stores than any of our other brands” and that Kohl’s is making “a significant investment” in redesigning the collection, the in-store experience and the packaging. The main objectives of the “cross-company initiative” are to modernize and simplify the look and unify its various elements so the brand projects a consistent image. Sonoma provides “everyday essentials” in women’s, men’s, children’s, accessories, home, and bed and bath products.
Kohl’s launched Sonoma in 1994 initially just in denim. “We have really evolved the product,” Gass said. “It’s easy, casual and comfortable” and still “denim-rooted.”
Other key private and exclusive brands at Kohl’s include Simply Vera Vera Wang, LC Lauren Conrad, Apt. 9, Croft & Barrow and Jennifer Lopez.