Karl Lagerfeld’s move to masstige will inch a step closer to fruition next fall when the designer launches a capsule collection for Macy’s.

This story first appeared in the November 24, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Lagerfeld will create a one-off line of limited edition women’s fashion that will be sold in about 250 Macy’s stores as well as online in September. The collection will be part of a new designer initiative that Macy’s will launch next year in which designers create capsule collections for the store’s Impulse department. The collections will rotate every two months and will start in February with Kinder Aggugini, a London-based designer who has worked with John Galliano, Vivienne Westwood, Paul Smith, Calvin Klein, Costume National and Versace. Aggugini will produce a line with a rocker-chic aesthetic.

“Karl Lagerfeld holds a unique place in the world of fashion, an icon who is the ultimate modernist,” said Terry J. Lundgren, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Macy’s Inc. “Through the decades, his style and vision have marked the history of design. It is a tremendous honor to bring his inimitable perspective to our fashion customer.”

According to the retailer, the designer capsule collection series signals Macy’s investment in its Impulse business “by infusing frequent newness, excitement and aspirational fashion to the assortment.”

In September, Lagerfeld revealed that he would not show his signature collection during Paris Fashion Week and was putting his energy behind a new masstige ready-to-wear range to be sold primarily online. He had been slated to show his designer line in early October.

Although the Macy’s collection would not constitute masstige, sources said, it does indicate the designer’s determination to branch out into the lower-priced arena.

Lagerfeld could not be reached for comment Tuesday but is also believed to be moving ahead with plans to create a new line based on the idea of “mass elitism.” That line, which would be primarily for women but would include a few men’s wear items as well, will consist of an entire range of product. It is expected to be introduced for the fall 2011 season.

The move to masstige has the blessing of Apax Partners, the New York-based owner of Karl Lagerfeld SAS. When Lagerfeld’s plans were first revealed, Christian Stahl, a partner in Apax, said: “We think there is great potential with this positioning, so we are very supportive and very excited. He is such a global personality; this is going to be a global approach.”

The masstige collection would be owned and operated by Apax. Stahl declined to comment on the Macy’s initiative on Tuesday.

At the time the plans for the designer capsule collection were announced, Jeff Gennette, Macy’s chief merchandising officer, said that the “opportunity to bring established and renowned fashion designers” to the store “affirms that Macy’s is a unique destination for fashion, bringing sophisticated design and aspirational fashion to a customer that desires and demands constant newness in her wardrobe.” Gennette could not be reached for further comment on Tuesday.

Macy’s has embarked on a successful campaign of high-profile exclusive collaborations including Madonna’s Material Girl as well as Rachel Rachel Roy, Tommy Hilfiger and Kenneth Cole Reaction.

The masstige move has proved to be a winning formula for retailers — and designers. The most recent, Lanvin (Hearts) H&M, hit the Swedish retailer’s stores this past weekend and created a shopping frenzy. H&M has been a leader of this masstige trend, along with Target.

Lagerfeld first got a taste for the masstige market when he teamed up with H&M in 2004. In a recent interview about bringing his creative energy to a lower-priced market, he said: “It’s funny for a person who has money to buy something inexpensive, and it’s great for a person with not so much money to be able to get something by a designer. It’s the new snobbism.”

The disclosure of an impending collaboration went viral on Tuesday after a story was posted on the Web site Unbeige.

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