Ed Burstell

Ed Burstell, well known in fashion circles for forming unique partnerships and exclusives between brands and retailers, is joining Neiman Marcus Group as senior vice president, product innovation for the Neiman Marcus division.

It’s a new role at Neiman’s. Burstell will start the job on Jan. 9 and will report directly to Jim Gold, president and chief merchandising officer of Neiman Marcus Group.

Neiman’s said Burstell will lead “a freshly established merchandising team dedicated to supporting and advancing Neiman Marcus’ strategic focus on product innovation and differentiation.” Its composition, Burstell said, is “under discussion. It’s going to be very fluid.”

The Dallas-based luxury retailer also said Burstell will work collaboratively across the organization and with external business partners to drive “key Neiman Marcus merchandising initiatives such as product exclusivity and fashion trend authority, while also shepherding new merchandising ideas and retailing concepts from inception to execution.”

“With his impressive and extensive background in merchandising and creative leadership, Ed is perfectly suited for this role,” Gold said. “We greatly admired how Ed revitalized the Liberty brand, while achieving impressive sales growth. Ed possesses immense creativity, a deep knowledge of the market and true appreciation for the customer.”

It’s actually Burstell’s third stint at Neiman Marcus Group, where early in his career he worked at the Neiman Marcus store in Westchester. He went on to hold merchandising and executive positions at Bloomingdale’s and Henri Bendel but returned to Neiman Marcus Group in 2004 as Bergdorf Goodman’s senior vice president, general merchandise manager, non-apparel, overseeing accessories, footwear, fine jewelry, designer jewelry, cosmetics and fragrance.

“It’s kind of like going back home again,” Burstell told WWD on Monday. Noting that he will be based in Dallas, Burstell said, “It’s going to be interesting. I get to explore a new city again.”

Burstell said he plans to work on exclusive projects and collaborations. “We want to be involved in certain strategic partnerships that need to be addressed. I will be taking a little bit of history and seeing if it can be applied here as well. But I’m not one of those people who come and says I know everything. Certainly I will have to learn about the Neiman Marcus customers. Jim has a world-class team and Neiman Marcus has the best roster of  luxury partners.”

In 2008, Burstell joined Liberty of London where he had a successful run as managing director and was instrumental in growing the business and forming innovative collaborations with the likes of Hermès, Manolo Blahnik, Nike, Uniqlo, Kenzo, Marc Jacobs, Dr. Martens and others. Liberty of London operates a historic, 141-year-old flagship on Great Marlborough Street in London’s West End that sells upscale luxury goods and is famous for its floral and graphic prints..

Burstell’s last job was at the Hudson’s Bay Co., where he worked in a role that was similar to what he is taking on at Neiman’s. But he stayed at HBC  for just two months, leaving last February. “I had to leave because personal things were going on,” Burstell said. He started in retailing as a spritzer at Macy’s.

Asked what luxury stores require, Burstell said, “Differentiation is the first thing. You have a product and a good one that matches the customer’s sensibility but also something that makes them think a bit and makes them smile.”

Burstell also said he believes the younger generation, which always has their mobile phones in their hands, “will be back in the stores.…I saw that at Liberty of London. When we put in a paper department with amazing paper products, it caught on fire with the younger generation.”