Saks brings fictional fashion to life with ‘Empire’ collection

Discussion
Aug 20, 2015

When we think of retailers that market products that appear in fictional contexts such as movies or television shows, toy companies tend to come to mind. Kids (or adults) see Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker dueling with lightsabers on screen and dash to the toy store to get a reasonably-priced replica.

But as people’s relationship with entertainment media has changed, so has the way product tie-ins work.

One would hardly expect a luxury retailer to create a product based on a popular television show, but that is precisely what Saks Fifth Avenue is doing in its partnership with Fox’s hit drama "Empire."

According to a Hollywood Reporter article, Saks Fifth Avenue is releasing collections of clothing, footwear, jewelry and handbags made by big-name designers that are based on the fashions worn by the characters in "Empire."

The show tells the story of an ailing, mega-rich hip-hop record mogul, Lucious Lyon. His ex-wife, Cookie Lyon (played by Taraji P. Henson), upon being released from jail sets off to stake her claim to half of Lucious’s record label, which she helped launch with drug money before her imprisonment. Cookie Lyon is popular among viewers and known for her unique fashion sense. She has been compared to the character of Alexis Carrington (played by Joan Collins) on "Dynasty."

Saks Empire

Source: Saks Fifth Avenue

"The lines between fashion and entertainment are intersecting," said Marc Metrick, president of Saks Fifth Avenue, in the Hollywood Reporter piece. "Harnessing this moment is a key underpinning to our strategy as it brings energy and uniqueness to the shopping experience at Saks."

This is not Saks Fifth Avenue’s first attempt at exploring the intersection between entertainment and real-life luxury fashion. In March of 2015 the company made available real-life glass slippers created by five different designers in conjunction with the release of Disney’s live-action "Cinderella" movie.

At least one other brand has gestured at this type of tie-in. In the ramp up to the release of "Avengers: Age of Ultron" apparent prototypes of the high-tech gizmos used on-screen by the superhero team were presented by Samsung at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

The assortment included Bluetooth ear pieces and smartwatches worn in the movie, as well as a see-through Samsung cell-phone used by playboy billionaire Tony Stark, AKA Iron Man. Much to the disappointment of fans with gadget budgets, the products were not made available to consumers.

Will the Saks Fifth Avenue “Empire” collection catch on with luxury shoppers and inspire more entertainment/luxury tie-ins from the retailer? What other types of retailers could find success with promotions of this kind?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"I think this is a great way to generate buzz and give department stores a more youthful/of-the-moment feel. I doubt that most luxury tie-ins will become highly in demand, so producing these items in small amounts would be wise."
"This one seems like no more than a "definite maybe." The concept of "Madison and Vine" (i.e., the convergence of marketing and Hollywood) is nothing new, so presumably Saks has some intelligence that Empire is highly resonant with a key segment of its customer base."

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6 Comments on "Saks brings fictional fashion to life with ‘Empire’ collection"


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Zel Bianco
Guest
6 years 8 months ago

I think this is a great way to generate buzz and give department stores a more youthful/of-the-moment feel. I doubt that most luxury tie-ins will become highly in demand, so producing these items in small amounts would be wise.

Phil Rubin
Guest
Phil Rubin
6 years 8 months ago

This one seems like no more than a “definite maybe.” The concept of “Madison and Vine” (i.e., the convergence of marketing and Hollywood) is nothing new, so presumably Saks has some intelligence that Empire is highly resonant with a key segment of its customer base. Assuming so, and that they’re merchandising this correctly, they should do well. That said, Saks is many things to many people these days, just like NM, but at least the former is promoting with a concept rather than a discount.

PJ Walker
Guest
6 years 8 months ago

Now take this one step further and let me be able to shop for it as I’m watching the show. In the new “What I Want When I Want It” paradigm, consumers want immediate access to shopping, checkout and delivery. The first apps that connect the products within shows directly to the shopping experience will open the flood gates and both retailers and consumers will reap the rewards.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest
6 years 8 months ago

While there’s nothing novel about fashions in the entertainment industry—traditionally Hollywood—influencing what is seen in stores, it’s usually been more subtle.

As for this particular tie-in, I’m sorry, but I just don’t see it working. And to be honest, I almost hope it doesn’t, as I don’t think people attracted to a show about an ex-con and her drug-financed hip hop label particularly match the demographic Saks is seeking; money, perhaps, but there’s more to success than chasing every dollar…even today.

Lee Kent
Guest
6 years 8 months ago

Although I am not familiar with “Empire,” based on the description here, I see this as a winner. There’s the down and dirty (saggy pants) side of hip hop, but then there’s the very glam and tasteful bling side as well. And that speaks right to some of the Saks customer base.

I happen to live in Atlanta, a hip hop capital, and we see a lot of this style around here. If our villainess is considered a glam girl then this will be a hit. IMHO…

…and for my 2 cents.

Tom Redd
Guest
6 years 8 months ago

SEARS and TRANSFORMERS? OK, just an idea. Men’s stores and Call of Duty would work. Leverage the the young, media-programmed minds!

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"I think this is a great way to generate buzz and give department stores a more youthful/of-the-moment feel. I doubt that most luxury tie-ins will become highly in demand, so producing these items in small amounts would be wise."
"This one seems like no more than a "definite maybe." The concept of "Madison and Vine" (i.e., the convergence of marketing and Hollywood) is nothing new, so presumably Saks has some intelligence that Empire is highly resonant with a key segment of its customer base."

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