NEW YORK — Macy’s East has taken the high road to pump up its fashion office.
Nicole Fischelis, a marquee name in fashion and a veteran of Saks Fifth Avenue and Salvatore Ferragamo, will join the 81-unit Macy’s East chain on Nov. 29 as vice president and fashion director for ready-to-wear, according to Ron Klein, chairman and chief executive officer of Macy’s East.
“This is a big job,” said Klein, who disclosed the appointment of Fischelis in an exclusive interview Thursday.
He explained Fischelis will have responsibilities for trend-spotting and fashion forecasting for ready-to-wear, and will work closely with the merchant, marketing and visual teams, ultimately helping to shape the mix on the selling floors.
In addition, Fischelis will help select merchandise for catalogues and translate the season’s trends to in-store special events, such as trunk shows. She will also serve as the voice of Macy’s on what’s hot and what’s selling, and will be attending fashion shows in New York and Europe.
Fischelis will report to Karen Smith-Harvey, senior vice president, fashion forecasting and trend direction. Others in the fashion office, which began rebuilding its team this year, include Steve Cardino, vice president and men’s fashion director, and Russell Orlando, vice president and fashion director for center core. Fischelis moves into a spot previously held by Joe Denofrio, who shifted over to the home store.
Fischelis was born in France and comes from a family of furriers. While the activities she takes on at Macy’s are similar to the tasks she performed in her previous jobs, most of her experience has been centered on designer merchandise and businesses that are high-end compared with Macy’s, which is primarily a moderate-to-better-priced chain.
Early in her career, she worked in a buying office in Paris that represented stores such as Neiman Marcus, Marshall Field’s, Saks Fifth Avenue and Holt Renfrew. She came to the U.S. in 1991 to work for Saks, where she stayed for 10 years and held the title of vice president and women’s fashion director. After Saks, she joined Ferragamo as senior vice president of fashion worldwide, and has most recently been doing some fashion consulting in Europe.
Klein said it’s not a stretch to bring Fischelis to Macy’s. “Our core customer is different from the channels where she spent significant amount of time working. However, if you look at the trends across product categories, you will see that they are frequently represented in every channel,” Klein said. He believes that American consumers are “fashion-savvy” regardless of where they shop, be it Macy’s, Target or Saks, and that retailers and manufacturers, through technologies such as computer-aided design, are much faster to interpret trends seen initially on the runways and generally sold first at higher-priced and luxury stores. He said with Fischelis on board, Macy’s can more readily seize fashion trends. Being fast on trends, he said, “is one of the biggest ways to drive top-line volume.”
In a statement, Fischelis said, “I am very happy to come back to New York which I have missed and is a home for me. Macy’s is America’s store with a history and most importantly a vision.”
It’s not the first time that Macy’s has recruited fashion executives from pricier retailers. Ellin Saltzman, a former Saks Fifth Avenue senior vice president and director of fashion and product development, joined Macy’s in 1989 as senior vice president and corporate fashion director. She left in 1992 to join Bergdorf Goodman, and, later, Limited Brands.