It’s been two years since Nordstrom closed Treasure & Bond, the SoHo store that donated all of its profits to charity, but the company is still finding ways to bring altruism into its business.
This story first appeared in the March 3, 2015 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The retailer on March 9 will launch Nordstrom + Piece & Co., a collection of apparel and accessories with brands such as Tory Burch, Alice + Olivia, Current/Elliott, Diane von Furstenberg, Rebecca Minkoff, The Honest Company and Theory. Each brand worked closely with Piece & Co. to source handmade materials and fabrics from artisans from around the world — including Vietnam, India, Mexico and Zambia — and incorporated them into collection items such as dresses, tops, skirts, shorts and handbags.
Piece & Co. was founded in 2011 by Kathleen Wright with a goal of ending global poverty by providing sustainable employment opportunities to female artisans. The organization has created thousands of jobs for women in more than 30 countries by sourcing fabric for brands from co-ops where techniques such as ikat, tie-dye and batik printing for fabric are practiced.
“We’re passionate about creating something beautiful and fashion-forward so that brands feel it’s a win-win,” said Wright. “It’s been my dream to see our fabrics used to interpret Tory [Burch’s] aesthetic and Diane [von Furstenberg’s] aesthetic.”
Wright said Piece & Co. each season presents designers with a collection of fabrics made through traditional methods practiced by the women. “We bring them the techniques, and very often they customize from there,” she said.
“Nordstrom is a great partner,” Wright said. “We’ve all seen how much traction we can get. The impact of being in Nordstrom will resonate and become bigger.”
Nordstrom + Piece & Co. will be available in 35 stores for four weeks. It will also be sold on nordstrom.com and will appear in the retailer’s spring catalogue. The collection consists of 32 items, from Tory Burch’s crackle-print canvas separates made of hand-painted fabric from Zambia to Diane von Furstenberg’s wrap dress made from hand-printed indigo batik. Prices for the collection range from $59.95 for a nursing scarf by The Honest Company to $495 for a jacket by Burch. Nordstrom + Piece & Co. designs, identifiable by hangtags that explain the genesis of the project, will be incorporated into each brand’s spring collection. A display of mannequins wearing Nordstrom + Piece & Co. will be centrally located on the sales floor.
“We have an R&D team in-house to keep the products fresh, so the offerings are evolving,” Wright said. “We understand that Tory Burch doesn’t want to produce hand-painted fabric from Zambia every season. That’s why we approached the supply chain from a global perspective.”
“It was important to us that we partnered with brands we already knew our customers loved,” said Tricia Smith, executive vice president and general merchandise manager of women’s apparel at Nordstrom. “We always want to find something special and unique for customers. Kathleen told me the story of what these co-ops do. It was such a compelling story, we couldn’t say no.”