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