- Kristopher Fraser |
Bill Blass is slowly making their way into the realms of brick-and-mortar. According to Stuart Goldblatt, the company's president and CEO, the brand will be exclusive at Bloomingdale's beginning this spring with their apparel, handbag, and footwear lines. While the plans are still being finalized, a pop-up shop at the Bloomingdale's 59th Street location in addition to several other locations is expected. The products will also be available on Bill Blass's e-commerce site.
In 2012, the Bill Blass brand was shuttered when the company decided to shutter their designer and couture business. They proceeded to let their license expire before they decided how they were going to revive the brand. A consumer insight survey of more than 3000 people indicated that the brand name had a "tremendous amount of recognition." This led to the company coming back and positioning the brand in the contemporary market.
The marketing and design aspects of the brand are now under creative director Chris Benz. The design group has five full-time team members.
Price points for apparel range from 48 dollars for a tank top to 1900 dollars for a sequined dress, price points for footwear range from 250 dollars to 300 dollars, and price points for handbags range from 350 dollars to 800 dollars.
Bill Blass continues their return with help from Bloomingdale's
While the company is currently just women's wear, there are plans to include men's and home offerings in the future.
In November, the brand was relaunched on the company's website as an e-commerce business. Currently, they are also on two other affiliated marketing sites — Orchard Mile and Spring — with plans to launch on Lyst in April.
Aside from Bloomingdale's, the brand has other plans for expansion. They are focusing on opening flagship stores, with plans for a New York flagship to open in 2017. Other planned flagships include locations in Los Angeles, Seoul, and Hong Kong. Their overseas interest is primarily in Asia.
In its prime, the Bill Blass brand had an estimated value of 750 million dollars, but since Blass retired in 1999 the brand has had numerous ups and downs in the business. In 2002, he passed away. Benz shifted the artistic direction of the brand to be more about patterns, prints, and embellishments.
In 2008, Peter and Cin Kim acquired the brand for 10 million dollars from NexCen brands inc. Ownership was originally under holding company Peacock International. The assets were quickly placed into a new holding company Bill Blass Group. NexCen originally acquired the brand for 54.6 million dollars in 2006. That number was increased by 425,000 dollars plus 950,000 dollars in loan forgiveness when Bill Blass Couture, the ready-to-wear unit, was acquired.As one of the most high trafficked retail shopping destinations in Manhattan, Bloomingdale's will be a valuable asset in helping Bill Blass return to their former glory. While competition in the women's contemporary space is very tough nowadays, the brand is re-entering the market with a level of name recognition, versus starting their company from the ground up. The next two years will prove whether or not Bill Blass has staying power this time around or not.