NEW YORK — In an example of a new type of retail symbiosis, U.K. retailer Reiss will open an in-store shop at Bloomingdale’s 59th Street flagship here.
This story first appeared in the September 22, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The collection won’t be wholesaled — Reiss is leasing the space and will be responsible for staffing and visual display and merchandising. Reiss will also have a presence on bloomingdales.com and in the retailer’s catalogue, David Reiss, the company’s founder, said.
Reiss hopes the Bloomingdale’s partnership will help raise its profile as it embarks on a global expansion plan that calls for opening four stores in Russia by early 2011 and launching new units in the Middle East and Far East. Bloomingdale’s will get from Reiss exclusive, differentiated product, something department stores have been clamoring for.
“In the United States, our big challenge is building brand awareness,” said Reiss. “Bloomingdale’s is giving us a prime location. If it does well, they want to put it in a raft of stores. We were approached by Illum in Copenhagen and El Corte Inglés in Spain. Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus wanted us to wholesale the collection to them.” Reiss said he’s not interested in wholesaling the brand.
At Bloomingdale’s, Reiss will sit next to Burberry Brit, Theory, Vince and Catherine Malandrino, he said.
Reiss describes the brand as “affordable luxury or luxury at a price. We use the same fabrics and the same factories as some luxury brands. We don’t have the millions of dollars in marketing charges and we don’t have the obscene margins the luxury brands have.”
Nor does Reiss want to be associated with fast fashion in any way. “It’s disposable clothes,” he said. “There seems to be a bit of a backlash against fast fashion. We are trying to move ourselves as far away from that end of the market as possible.”
The $200 million company reviewed its pricing architecture recently and created more entry price points while also taking the luxury price points higher. The collection is modern, clean and trend-conscious. “I don’t like things that are over-creative, like an extra pocket,” Reiss said. For fall, there’s a shearling coat for $1,200; stitch detail cape, $375; Mongolian sheepskin jacket, $795, and cheetah-print dress, $310. Reiss’ tailored suits are $350 for a jacket and $175 for a skirt. The denim-driven 1971 collection bowed last year and is named for the year Reiss was founded.
E-commerce was launched a year ago and an iPhone app made its debut on Sept. 1, with an iPad app on the way.
Reiss wants to open a fourth store in Manhattan and is eyeing cities such as Chicago. The company operates 10 stores in the U.S. Reiss ultimately sees room for 20 to 25 units.