Lord & Taylor has ruffled some feathers in the luxury world.
The retailer last month unveiled plans to launch two concept shops at its Fifth Avenue flagship — The Birdcage and Brand Assembly. Liz Rodbell, president of Lord & Taylor and Hudson’s Bay Co., told WWD that the shops would inject “newness and fashion relevance.”
Not all the vendors would be new, she added, but The Birdcage, at least, would present “a highly curated, eclectic assortment.”
So far, so good.
The problem arose a few days later when L&T previewed offerings in The Birdcage at the Andaz Hotel in Manhattan. Among the products displayed were vintage accessories from the likes of Hermès, Louis Vuitton and Chanel.
And Chanel was not pleased.
In a statement to WWD, Chanel wrote: “Chanel is not participating in the Lord & Taylor Birdcage store concept, and does not distribute or authorize the sale of vintage Chanel merchandise through any retail channels.”
That may be the case, even though vintage Chanel can be found for sale in everything from consignment shops nationwide to auction houses and on e-commerce sites such as 1stdibs and eBay.
Sources said L&T acquired the vintage accessories through legitimate consignment shops. The problem for L&T is that it is part of Hudson’s Bay Co. Inc., which also owns Saks Fifth Avenue. And Saks, of course, carries in-season products from major luxury brands like Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Hermès.
So the question became: Who would blink first?
The answer — L&T.
While a spokesman for the department store declined comment, sources said The Birdcage won’t sell the Hermès, Vuitton and Chanel vintage handbags as part of its offering.
Chanel did not further elaborate on its policy regarding the sale of vintage merchandise. Louis Vuitton declined to comment. However, Robert Chavez, chief executive officer of Hermès USA, said, “Hermès does not condone re-selling, and there is always the question of authenticity. We maintain a very limited distribution strategy in order to preserve the integrity of the House and in the interest of our loyal clients.”