Saks Fifth Avenue Revamping Men’s Private Label

Saks Fifth Avenue is accelerating the rollout of its men’s private label.

Starting this fall, the line will have a new name, three subbrands and devoted shops in key markets. And the retailer did not rule out the possibility that it would wholesale the collection in the near future.

“We are a brand,” said Richard Cohen, vice president of business development for Saks, who came on board last year to spearhead the development of the label. Called the Saks Fifth Avenue Men’s Collection, the line was launched in 2009 and has grown into the retailer’s largest-selling men’s wear brand. That success has spawned the development of a women’s private brand collection as well.

The men’s line will now be called simply Saks Fifth Avenue New York, but within that will be Black, White and Platinum subbrands that will be differentiated by the color of their interior labels. Black and Platinum product are being designed by Kim Herring, who had worked with Cohen at Ermenegildo Zegna, while the White label is being designed by Rhett Bonnett, a fledgling men’s wear designer who also produces a line under his own name.

“We created three different labels,” Cohen said. “Black is our international line; White is our modern, younger line, and Platinum is our top-of-the-line.” The idea behind separating the labels is to take the Saks customer “on his journey, from a twentysomething all the way up till he becomes ceo.”

The Black component offers suits, furnishings, sportswear, outerwear and shoes. White is more firmly rooted in sportswear, and Platinum offers premium outerwear.

But while the color of their labels may be different, the subbrands are designed to work together and also will complement the multibrand assortment on the floor.

“We feel comfortable that this can sit easily with the other people we buy from,” Cohen said.

Ron Frasch, Saks Inc. president and chief merchant, said the journey for Saks started just more than three years ago when Peter Rizzo, who now heads creative merchandising for the company’s Off 5th division, told him that the store had every great men’s label but one — its own. “He got me thinking that there’s a place for us. We have a distinctive and desirable fashionable point of view. And it also fulfilled our need to increase exclusives within our men’s offer,” Frasch said.

Rizzo worked with the existing team to create the first collections, and “very quickly it became a very significant business for us,” Frasch said. Rizzo then moved to the discount division and Saks hired Cohen. In order to elevate the brand further, “we realized we needed true design talent,” and Herring came on board, Frasch said. “This is his first fully developed collection, and we’re really proud of it.”

To show it off, Saks knew it had to enhance the presentation in stores. “If we want to play with the big boys in the men’s business, we have to present it in the same way,” Frasch said.


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