Rock & Republic for Kohl's fits like a pair of skinny jeans
Rock & Republic, once stocked in upscale department stores like Bloomingdale's, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom, is back on store shelves this month -- exclusively at Kohl's -- and based on the selection sent down the runway at a press unveiling Friday, the once high-flying premium label and the value-priced retailer fit like that favorite pair of skinny jeans.
Among the women's offerings sent down the pocket-sized runway were sequined camis ($48), stud-embellished tank tops ($44 ) dresses ($70) and heels ($74.99) and denim bottoms that ranged from cuffed utility shorts ($72) to curve-hugging flare-legged jeans ($80). The men's collection didn't stray
Although the relaunch debuts with just men's and women's apparel and footwear, plans for the brand include potential expansion into additional categories including accessories, children's and home.
Under a long-term licensing agreement with VF Corp. (which owns denim brands Wrangler, Lee and 7 For All Mankind and bought Rock & Republic's trademarks at a bankruptcy auction last March), VF is manufacturing Rock & Republic's jeanswear component, with Kohl's design and sourcing teams responsible for the rest of the apparel categories.
Because the brand is exclusive to the Menomenee Falls, Wis., retailer, the event was purely for the benefit of press, and not aimed at prospective retail buyers. Among the celebrities tapped to give the affair at the Hammerstein Ballroom a legitimate Fashion Week feel were Mena Suvari, Ashley Simpson, Penn Badgley, Ed Westwick, Zoe Saldana and Molly Sims.
Before the show, we spoke with Sims (whom we'd recently chatted with at the Art of Elysium gala in L.A.) and she told us that she's been rocking Rock & Republic since the brand's very beginning. "I've been wearing Rock & Republic for almost 10 years," she told us. "They were one of the first brands that had the long flowing-leg jeans for the skinny girl."
Sims said she'd gotten a peek at the new incarnation of Rock & Republic -- as an exclusive-to-Kohl's brand -- and she gave it high marks. "I love it -- it's mixing high with low and I think that's what people are looking for right now. Nobody wears head-to-toe high[-priced brands]."
By way of example she pointed to her own outfit for the evening -- a stretchy black T-shirt, a pair of black jeans with a thigh-length black leather open weave jacket by Diane Von Furstenberg over top.
And Sims makes a good point: Putting Rock & Republic -- which still resonates with consumers as a premium brand -- at a value-priced retailer like Kohl's hits the same high-low "masstige" sweet spot that's been a proven formula for success, mostly with recent collections like Missoni for Target and Versace for H&M.
Rock & Republic for Kohl's, currently available online, launches in brick-and-mortar Kohl's stores on Feb. 15.
-- Adam Tschorn
Top photo: Looks from the Rock & Republic for Kohl's spring and summer 2012 collection. Credit: Mike Coppola / Getty Images
Bottom photo: Molly Sims, one of the event's celebrity attendees, has been wearing the brand since its early days. Credit: Charles Sykes / Associated Press