Three Big New Retail Partnerships

Retailers can’t seem to get enough of partnerships these days…be it with hot designers, each other or television shows. Below is a quick recap of three new couplings that have the industry buzzing.

1. Nordstrom and Topshop: Looking to add more fashion sizzle to its offerings, Nordstrom has entered into a joint venture with Topshop, the British fast-fashion giant known for its runway-inspired threads and rock ‘n’ roll attitude.

Under the arrangement, Nordstrom will open Topshop and Topman (the men’s unit) departments in 14 locations across the country in early September. The departments (the women’s will run about 2,500 sq. ft., and the men’s about 1,500 sq. ft.) will be outfitted with mannequins, visual merchandising and store fixtures supplied from the United Kingdom. The merchandise mix will include limited-edition pieces created especially for Nordstrom. An expanded selection will be available on

The alliance is a win-win for both retailers. It gives Topshop, which to date has opened three stores in the United States, a low-risk, inexpensive way to introduce its brand across the country. And it gives Nordstrom something just as critical in today’s supercharged competitive landscape: a lock on exclusive merchandise. 

The deal also raises the Seattle-based retailer’s cool quotient and style profile significantly, which, combined with Topshop’s affordable prices, could help attract the type of younger, less affluent style-conscious shoppers that tend to stay away from department stores.

2. Target and Neiman Marcus: In a deal that already has style mavens swooning, the discount chain and luxury department store company will sell a limited-edition, holiday gift collection with items created by 24 top designers selected from the roster of the Council of American Fashion Designers. To say the line-up is impressive is an understatement: It includes Marc Jacobs, Tory Burch, Rag & Bone, Diane von Furstenberg and Caroline Herrera to name a few.

The collection will include more than 50 items and run the full gamut, from home to men’s, women’s and children. Prices will range from $7.99 to $499.99, with most items under $60. (Both retailers will offer the same merchandise at the same prices.)

The collection will be available in dedicated spaces in Target and Neiman stores nationwide on December 1, as well as online on their respective websites. Let’s just hope that the merchants have the capabilities and the goods to support the frenzy that is likely to ensue when the collection goes live. A replay of the Target-Missoni madness would not be in keeping with the spirit of the holiday!

3. Lord & Taylor and Project Runway: Department store retailer Lord & Taylor is headed to the runway—that is, the one hosted by celebrity/model Heidi Klum. The chain has signed on as the exclusive retail sponsor for the 10th season of Lifetime’s hit show, Project Runway, which kicks off on July 19.

As part of the retailer’s sponsorship, the show will feature a custom-built “accessory wall” with an edited assortment of Lord & Taylor’s shoes, handbags and accessories, which contestants will use to complete their looks during each challenge. In addition, the retailer will host a challenge at its Fifth Avenue flagship, with the show airing on Aug. 30. As part of the grand prize, the retailer will offer the winner of "Project Runway" the opportunity to sell their collection at the store.

The partnership will also be promoted through store windows and social media platforms. It should give Lord & Taylor the opportunity to create some nice buzz for itself. And what retailer couldn’t use that?

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