Kohl's on Tuesday announced "Curated by Kohl's," a selection of products from emerging brands to be sold online and in more than 50 Kohl's stores beginning in mid-October, according to a company press release. A company spokesperson declined to share which locations are participating.
The chosen assortment, which will include apparel, accessories and home goods, will be refreshed quarterly, and found in each selection's respective department, according to the release. The first round will feature lingerie brand Adore Me, plus-size apparel brand East Adeline by Dia&Co, Kid Made Modern craft kits, Lovepop greeting cards, Luca + Danni bracelets, and eco-friendly bags, drinkware and reusable straw kits from sustainable brand United by Blue.
Later this year, items from Nine West, Scott Living home lifestyle collection, and Elizabeth and James, plus a holiday capsule by fashion designer Jason Wu, will be added to Kohl's assortment. For next spring's rotation, the department store will partner with Facebook to identify brands that have built a strong online community there, the company also said.
Kohl's has forged some partnerships of varying strengths. The discount department store has special sections dedicated to the likes of Nike and Under Armour, has tied up with millennial favorite Popsugar and is bringing in Planet Fitness and WW (previously known as Weight Watchers) to bring in customers and use up its extra space.
Its most infamous partnership is with Amazon, of course, and as of this summer all of the retailer's stores are taking the e-commerce giant's returns — a somewhat controversial move that research has shown is bringing in traffic as Kohl's executives had hoped.
While the curation announced by Kohl's brings to mind Macy's Story, it's more like the Market @ Macy's, another curation concept with Facebook. And while Story is the one that is getting Macy's more press, merchandising the items in their relevant departments — jewelry with jewelry, apparel with apparel, toys with toys — is likely to be more effective at Kohl's, according to Bob Phibbs, CEO of the consulting firm The Retail Doctor.
"It makes a stronger statement for them," he told Retail Dive in an interview. "It's more of a merchant play than as a buzz collector."
The selection may be somewhat "random" if it's compiled using Facebook data, as it likely is, according to Phibbs. Nordstrom years ago similarly tagged some items as "popular on Pinterest" in stores, noted Doug Stephens, author of "Reengineering Retail: The Future of Selling in a Post-Digital World." But Facebook's data may not be ideal, Stephens noted.
"I applaud Kohl's willingness to explore. I think that these are the kinds of things that brands like Kohl's should be experimenting and iterating with," he told Retail Dive in an interview. "My only concern is that Facebook is not really the bridge that is going to get them to a new generation of consumers. From a data play standpoint it's good, and it probably reaches Kohl's existing audience — the consumer maybe 45 to 55 years old. We know that younger consumers are abandoning Facebook at a pretty astonishing rate. In the long run they may want to partner with maybe the Instagram arm of Facebook. Facebook has become a little bit of a retirement home."