Karl Lagerfeld

The collaboration has been in the works since last year and is integral to the retailer’s efforts to elevate the profile of its contemporary departments.

Macy’s will today reveal details of its much-anticipated Karl Lagerfeld capsule collection.

This story first appeared in the July 20, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The collaboration has been in the works since last year and is integral to Macy’s efforts to elevate the profile and appeal of its Impulse contemporary departments. Macy’s operates Impulse areas in about 230 of its 800-plus doors and is expanding the format.

According to sources, the distribution of Lagerfeld’s line for Impulse will extend beyond Macy’s big urban flagships such as Herald Square in Manhattan and State Street in Chicago, where the retailer sells its edgier and more aspirational merchandise, to include more than 200 Impulse shops nationwide. Macys.com will also feature the line.

Lagerfeld has reportedly incorporated his signature style into his one-off collection for Macy’s, including some high-collared pieces as well as edgier, rock ’n’ roll looks. All the items will be at Macy’s price points, in the moderate to better range. Products will begin selling at the end of August, and an extensive marketing campaign is expected.

Macy’s officials were not available for comment Tuesday about the collaboration.

The company’s strategy of introducing exclusive capsule collections by designers normally associated with more high-end stores was launched with British designer Kinder Aggugini in February, and followed up in April by another Brit, Matthew Williamson. Sources have said that after Lagerfeld, Macy’s Impulse will feature Giambattista Valli in November. Then, for holiday 2011 selling, Lagerfeld and the three other featured designers will again create exclusive product for Macy’s. Given Lagerfeld’s prominence, it’s only fitting that he be reserved for the most important fall season, when stores sell the most designer merchandise.

Macy’s approach for Impulse, involving established and emerging designers, will continue into at least next year.

As far as growing its contemporary business, Macy’s has been extending the Impulse umbrella to additional product categories such as accessories, men’s wear and beauty. Impulse offers brands such as Rachel Rachel Roy, BCBG Max Azria, Free People, Ed Hardy, INC, Ralph Lauren RLX, Seven For All Mankind, Kensie and Bar III, a private brand launched last winter.

Macy’s has acknowledged that it has been underserving the contemporary customer and not getting its fair share of the business, but is gaining some share and layering on volume this year. In the past, the store’s reputation has been stronger in better and traditional sportswear.

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