For Lord & Taylor, a regional chain with less buying clout than Macy’s Inc. or Target Corp., exclusives don’t come easy.

This story first appeared in the February 16, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

But now L&T merchants are working on a series of “capsule” collections with contemporary designers to try to level the playing field. “We don’t have a specific number of collaborations planned, but we believe it’s a new opportunity and will grow in the future both at Lord & Taylor and The Bay,” said Liz Rodbell, executive vice president of merchandising at Hudson’s Bay Company, which operates Lord & Taylor in the U.S. and The Bay department stores in Canada.

First up is a collection called Yoana by Yoana Baraschi, which will be sold only at 11 Lord & Taylor stores where there are contemporary departments, and not at The Bay.

“We have orders for spring and summer with a plan to work on fall and holiday,” said Baraschi, explaining that the plan is different from the one-off designer capsule collection strategy that’s been at Macy’s for the past year.

Baraschi said Yoana by Yoana Baraschi will be a 12-piece line that “crystallizes the playfulness and chic of my signature collection and makes it available to a broader customer base.” There are also five dresses that will be sold at all L&T doors. She cited ponte knit fabrics, slimming color-blocked dresses, whimsical prints, striped nautical blazers, and an overall tongue-in-cheek approach as characterizing her capsule line at Lord & Taylor. Everything is priced for less than $200. Sportswear items range from $150 for a printed pencil skirt to $190 for a striped double-knit blazer. Dresses range from $188 for a python-printed shirtdress to $198 for her signature double-knit dresses.

There will also be monthly replenishments. She said her signature collection is sold at Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and 500 specialty stores around the world.

“Yoana has a sensible and playful design aesthetic that will appeal to our core contemporary collection clientele,” Rodbell added. Lord & Taylor is also expected to launch a capsule collection with Z-Spoke in April and is considering other options for down the road.

With Lord & Taylor’s performance improving and its marketing stepping up, designers have taken notice. Also, with recent consolidation and integrations at Lord & Taylor and The Bay extending across the operations and merchandising, there’s a chance that designers would receive larger orders than they would have in the past from just Lord & Taylor. Many of the same brands are carried at both divisions, and the overlap appears to be growing. For example, private label Lord & Taylor cashmere began selling at The Bay last fall. The Bay also sells the Black Brown 1826 men’s label, originally an L&T exclusive.

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