Erusha-Hilleque leads Macy's private brand design teams for apparel, center core and home, working with the merchandising and sourcing teams and reporting to chief merchant Nata Dvir, according to a company press release.
She was in merchandising at Target for two decades, per her LinkedIn page. Most recently she led ready-to-wear, young contemporary private labels and design partnerships, and was responsible for developing the Gen Z-focused Wild Fable line and forging tie-ups with Levi's, Nili Lotan and Lego, among others, per Macy's release.
Macy's follows Bed Bath & Beyond, which in 2019 poached former Target chief merchant Mark Tritton as CEO, in turning to Target's merchandising corps in order to realize its own hopes of a turnaround.
It's no wonder, given that Target has become a private label powerhouse, with nearly 50 brands in its stable, 10 of which each are worth $1 billion. Target has also been collaborating with top designers since the late 1990s.
In a statement, Dvir said that a private label revamp remains key to the department store's Polaris turnaround strategy, which was put on ice as the pandemic overshadowed operations shortly after it was unveiled. Macy's had mapped out a goal for private brands to account for 25% of sales by 2025. Familiar labels like INC International Concepts, Alfani, Style & Co and Charter Club were to get overhauled, though at the time, executives said those were already "well on their way" to each becoming a $1 billion brand.
Last year, the department store did get started on new brands, releasing the youthful "And Now This" over the summer. But the department store is now turning to someone who has spent her entire career at Target as it continues down this path.
"Emily brings leadership and expertise in creating industry-disrupting brands and driving successful product design and merchandising strategies," Dvir said in a statement on Monday. "She has her finger on the pulse of the consumer and on trends. She will ensure that our private brands reflect our customers' wants and needs across categories."
This move could be the "shot in the arm that Macy's desperately needs" to revive what is a collection of tired brands, according to Kristin Bentz, president of KB Advisory Group. "This hire is definitely forward momentum, but you need to see that flow-through on the merchandise side and show some success at the store level," she said by phone. "You're going need like at least three collections to kind of show some staying power."
Erusha-Hilleque will be encountering entrenched Macy's teams that may or may not be receptive to her ideas, according to retail consultant Brian Kelly. "Will her new executive team play ball with her? Or is it an effort to demonstrate intent to the street to buy another quarter of good will?" Kelly said by email. "The recent remarks from their quarterly earnings statement are encouraging — putting the customer up front, aka first, suggests a new approach. But we've heard these promises before."
Dvir herself is fairly new to Macy's, moving up within the organization early last year to replace Macy's veteran Patti Ongman, who had taken the chief merchant role a couple of years earlier and presented the company's private label strategy when Polaris launched.