Sears Visits Fashion Week
By Tom Ryan
Sears announced plans last week to unveil a lifestyle exhibit during September Fashion Week shows in New York City as part of its recently-bolstered efforts to cultivate a hipper image. The exhibit on September 9, open to the public, will particularly showcase newer brands and includes an appearance by rapper LL Cool J to support his new exclusive line at Sears.
“What we really wanted to do was bring a taste of Fashion Week to people who would normally never get to sit under the tents or get to see a runway show,” Sears spokeswoman Amy Dimond told Reuters.
The presentation will combine both hardline (e.g, Kenmore) and softline categories in eight distinctive lifestyle spaces. Besides LL Cool J’s RockForward line, other collections featured include the Dr. Rey Shapewear line from the famed Beverly Hills plastic surgeon introduced in 2007. Also featured will be the newer home collection from Ty Pennington, star of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” as well as the clothing line from Vanessa Hudgens, the 19-year-old High School Musical star. Sears also promises to announce a new apparel line with “unparalleled authenticity.”
As part of the festivities, Sears will hold an exclusive kick-off party in honor of the launch of the LL Cool J line and featuring DJ Funkmaster Flex.
“By showcasing our extensive range of whole house brands in a disruptive setting, we believe we can pay a respectful tribute to fashion where it comes to life each season, and still offer an aspirational lifestyle that is inclusive,” said Richard Gerstein, chief marketing officer at Sears, in a statement. “The installation will play off our autumn campaign, FallForward, providing context for the ideal of designing for the future but living in the moment.”
It’s not the first time a mainstream retailer has tried to link itself to fashion’s upper crust. In September 2005, Walmart held its first New York Fashion Week show, hosting the event at a Times Square studio so pedestrians could watch. But it ended the affiliation by early 2007.
Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at NPD Group, told Reuters that by participating in Fashion Week, Sears could generate some positive word-of-mouth and drive shoppers into its stores. But he said the effort could backfire if Sears cannot deliver once it gets shoppers through its doors.
“The execution is going to be critical,” he said. “It’s great to say that you’re going to have the product, but then you have to live up to it.”
Discussion Questions: What do you think of Sears’ move to showcase its newer fashion and home collections at the upcoming Fashion Week shows in New York City? What’s the overall benefit for mainstream retailers in appearing at major fashion shows?
- Sears to showcase at NY’s Fashion Week – Reuters
- Sears to Bring a Taste of Fashion Week to the Masses – PRnewswire