Sears, the 120 year old family-oriented mid-range US department store, isn’t exactly synonymous with high fashion. Nonetheless, the chain has announced plans to launch a lifestyle exhibit on September 10th at New York City’s Bryant Park to coincide with – you guessed it – Spring 2009 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. In an effort to boost the company’s fortunes and ameliorate their reputation as an outmoded nonentity in the apparel industry, they come to Fashion Week with a new lifestyle philosophy and an ambitious business agenda: convince onlookers that Sears’ and fashion’s ideals co-exist. In order to accomplish this, a new portfolio of brands that reflect the “attainable good life” will be showcased in the Sears FallForward Fashion Installation.
“Style and forward thinking design should be accessible,” said Richard Gerstein, Chief Marketing Officer at Sears. “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.” In past seasons, Sears executives have worked to reestablish relevance with other industry professionals by offering appointment-only demonstrations of their commitment to bridging the gap between the luxurious and the affordable.
Eight “lifestyle spaces” will be unveiled during the public installation. LL Cool J’s new clothing line – the most high profile new addition to the “softer side of Sears” – will not only be prominently featured in the RockForward exhibit, it will hit Sears stores nationwide that very week, with all pieces priced under $50. “I entrusted Sears with my name and my clothing line because I wanted to keep it real,” said LL Cool J. “The world didn’t need another $5,000 pair of jeans.” Word. He also emphasized that his wife and child will play a cental role in the RockForward exhibition (which prompts us to wonder – just what kind of live “art happening’ is Sears planning here?)
Other celebrity-endorsed exhibits will include LoveForward (“shapewear” by plastic surgeon to the stars, Dr. Robert Rey and Italian designer Bruno Shiavi), BuildForward (Ty Pennington, ’nuff said), and FastFoward (back-to-school with Vanessa Hudgens!). Sears executives are keeping one lifestyle installation a secret, but rest assured it involves apparel that boasts “unparalleled authenticity.” Any ideas?
The exhibit will be open to the public on September 10, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., at the Bryant Park Grill and Cafe‘s outdoor garden. Dr. Robert Rey, Bruno Schiavi, LL Cool J will make their autograph rounds that evening. An allstar launch party will follow on the rooftop of the Bryant Park Grill and Cafe in honor of the launch of the LL Cool J line. Funkmaster Flex will deejay the event (!).
Does Sears have a shot at impressing the Bryant Park crowd or is this idea going to backfire?