Macy's in-house Bar III brand has taken to the great outdoors -- or at least tented parking lots -- with a traveling pop-up road show that will be decamping to the Rose Bowl flea market in Pasadena on Sunday.
It's part of a tour that's taking the label's ready-to-wear, menswear, jewelry and home collections to hip, vintage street fairs, bazaars and flea market locales across the country and kicked off last weekend at the Hester Street Fair on Manhattan's Lower East Side. After departing Southern California, it will continue on to similar venues in Chicago and Denver before returning to New York City.
The only hitch is, if you pop into the branded Bar III tent and find something that strikes your fancy, you won't be able to take it with you -- the merchandise on hand will consist only of a run of sizes for customers to try on, with purchases being completed on site through Macy's website. (The upside is free shipping and the fact that dropping $100 or more earns you a free tote.)
Along for the ride is Los Angeles-based fashion blogger Aimee Song (Song of Style) who, in her role as event host/brand ambassador will be on hand to consult with customers.
Until as recently as last week, the notion of a gargantuan retailer such as Macy's trying to seem hipster-level cool and street-style savvy by tapping bloggers as brand ambassadors and setting up shop at flea markets might have struck me as kind of curious. Then, on May 6, another massive retail chain -- Target -- took the wraps off its latest initiative: the Shops at Target, a collaborative effort with a handful of boutique retail brands from across the country (including Privet House, the Webster and Polka Dog Bakery).
Two days earlier, New York City-based publishing company Sandow Media announced that it had purchased worldwide rights to the Fred Segal brand -- a name that has become virtually synonymous with the carefully curated, style-savvy, Southern California shopping experience -- with plans to open retail centers like the ones here in Los Angeles and Santa Monica (which weren't part of the Sandow purchase) around the globe, as well as put the Fred Segal name and logo on a range of apparel, houseware and beauty products.
It feels almost as if the frenzied collaboration strategy of the last several years (Banana Republic wine bottles, anyone?) is shifting focus from the talents of the fashion designer to the talents of the boutique buyers and street-fair organizers in the quest for curating -- instead of creating -- the cool.
Given the ever-increasing clutter on the retail -- and e-tail -- landscape, it's not hard to see the appeal.
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-- Adam Tschorn
Photo: Macy's private-label Bar III kicked off a cross-country flea market tour at the Hester Street Fair in New York City last weekend. Photo: G. Ascencio