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12-05-2007
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So anyone wants a cheap Vera Wang weddding dress?

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12-05-2007
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I'm psyched by the pictures from wwd! (thanks kimair)
They all look promising..but I guess I will check them out in person before deciding.
I purchased a white silk top from her main line last F/W and I have been getting a lot of wear out of it, so this is definitely something that I'm looking forward to!

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13-05-2007
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This is some pretty amazing stuff! I usually overlook collaborations like this, but this really looks like it could be in one of Vera's real collections. I think I may get my mother to start shopping at Kohl's...

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13-05-2007
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wow i can't believe she's working with kohl's! of all places!! well...who wouldn't want designer names for less i guess?

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13-05-2007
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I'm stoked for this. The pieces put together are a bit over-the-top, but alone they'll look great.

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13-05-2007
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i think that blue dress with pleated bodice and blue satin ribbon straps looks wonderful, and very true to vera wang's main collections! i'm curious to see other things from this...

i think kohl's is definitely making more of an effort to be fashion-forward. i was there this weekend (in town visiting my mum!) and saw this (don't laugh) daisy fuentes top that wouldn't have been out of place in a paul & joe ad...i was quite surprised. and i can say that some of their 'good skin' beauty products are fab

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13-05-2007
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the only thing i like is the gold skirt outfit... everything else just looks really hideous, and saved by clever styling.

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14-05-2007
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image and excerpt from wwd
Very Vera, Very Chic

"The prevailing mood — one that encompassed everything from bubble skirts to undies to decorated throw pillows in the multiple-category debut — radiated Wang's sensibility, a seamless fusion of pragmatist, romantic and artiste. To wit, she worked a dark, moody palette for high-style coats (one cut with short sleeves, another with a high waist), gentle bicolor dresses and languid tunics over leggings, warming it all up with pilings of mufflers, ombré fingerless gloves and ribbed hats that bore hints of both grunge and Ellis Island.

If it sounds like a lot of fashion, it was — tons of it. And, despite the prices, $138 max at retail for the clothes, nothing looked or felt cheap, including the handbags. Rather, the materials were impressive, and wherever Wang could add a flourish, she did, as in tulle edging on pajamas and even in the grosgrain tab on the standard shoebox. All of which will no doubt keep the industry engrossed as the merch hits the selling floor in September.

Simply Vera may prove too much fashion for a mass audience accustomed to more traditional sportswear motifs, even from the numerous major designers who now swim in, or have at least tested on a one-season basis, the mass waters. Conversely, such supposition may be mere myopic musing rooted in a parochial high-end bias. Certainly Wang has taken care to address her new customers' far-flung needs. Because a gold bubbled brocade skirt might not work 24-7 for even the most au courant woman, the collection boasts ample everyday staples: jeans, T-shirts, plain and frothy shirts, cardigans, pullovers and on and on, right down to decorated ballet flats. What's more, since Wang is not only targeting the young fashion-girl-on-a-budget set, her casting featured a wide array of models, including one gorgeous over-50 type who looked casually glamorous in black jeans and a boyfriend jacket.

Another point of fascination: Will this enterprise negatively impact Wang's signature and Lavender collections? Some competitors think yes; some, privately, may even hope yes. But one point is certain: Everyone is watching. If Simply Vera Vera Wang develops into the success on which its designer and Kohl's are banking, we can expect more and more designers to seek out deals of their own, and the ramifications, including those for the major department stores, could be enormous."
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File Type: jpg verawang.jpg (17.6 KB, 53 views)

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14-05-2007
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vera wang has been licensing out her name to a million things already...you can sleep on vera wang sheets, eat on vera wang plates, wear vera wang sexy pajamas...She'll make a lot of money with this line and get her name out there like never before...in terms of revenue and marketing , it will be good for her I think...

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14-05-2007
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^ don't forget vera wang mattresses!

seriously, i would love to know how much money she is getting out of this. it's definitely a big step into making her a lifestyle brand the same way ralph lauren is...

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14-05-2007
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well, kohl's has def gotten attention from people who wouldnt normally shop there with their beauty and skincare lines...flirt, grassroots, and good skin...the vera wang line is another step in rebuilding their brand/image...

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15-05-2007
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$138 max, huh? That sounds pretty good. I hope this is in a store near me...and then I need to find a store near me...

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16-05-2007
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for those who can't be bothered to read..

THIS is how much she is getting...
Quote:
Neither Kohl's nor Wang would disclose contract details or project volume for the lines, but industry sources estimated it could become a $500 million business and that Wang could get $100 million over the length of the contract, which Wang called "the beginning of a collection — not a guest appearance."
so how long is the contract for?...5 years i assume?...

from that wwd article..i'd say the fashion pack is in her corner at least...

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17-06-2007
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NYTimes just published a long article in the Business section about the Kohls/Vera Wang partnership. it's really interesting and informative, and i think it's very balanced and smart about the possible business pitfalls of the partnership, as well as the advantages for both. i am still really curious to see the clothes myself - i have a feeling that i will be picking up a few pieces. also, i know a few people here are really into that gold brocade skirt...the article says it will be produced in limited quantities and will be sold for $68. i think what it will boil down to are the designs, to be honest, and the price. also, i can't tell if this is to get NEW customers in the store or if it is to expand what their existing customers buy...

anyway, here's the article, i hope it isn't too long, i'll post it in halves:

June 17, 2007

Can You Be Too Fashionable?

By ERIC WILSON and MICHAEL BARBARO

STANDING with her back to a room full of Kohl’s department store executives in a Manhattan studio, Vera Wang reviewed prototypes from an exclusive new collection of mainstream fashion that Kohl’s plans to sell under her name. “This is all black,” said Ms. Wang, dismissively. “Black is very ’90s.”

Later, Julie Gardner, a marketing executive for the Kohl’s chain, described the meeting as an epiphany of sorts — a moment when she realized that much of what she had assumed to be fashionable was, in fact, out of date. “We were hanging on her every word,” Ms. Gardner recalled. “We all looked down and we were all wearing black from head to toe.”

Kohl’s, based in the pastoral haven of Menomonee Falls, Wis., is a retailer that sells clothes to the masses, a far cry from the trendy New York image of Ms. Wang, who is best known as a designer of exquisite — and often very expensive — bridal gowns. So aesthetic tension is to be expected. But with its introduction of Ms. Wang’s new cut-rate collections coming in September, Kohl’s has been uncommonly deferential on matters of style to someone more accustomed to Madison Avenue boutiques than suburban strip malls.

Even so, as it tries to recast itself as a department store that offers not only affordable fashion but a dash of style as well, Kohl’s intends to make Ms. Wang the public face of its reinvention. For her part, Ms. Wang says that her relationship with Kohl’s is more than a marriage of convenience. Like many successful entrepreneurs before her, she has reached a crossroads: her business has grown so rapidly and in so many directions that she lacks the resources — especially cash — to keep expanding it on her own.

“I know actors always say, ‘I’m just grateful that I get to continue doing what I love most,’ but for actors their tool is themselves and their talent — designers need a lot more help,” Ms. Wang says. “We need money. We need infrastructure, design talent, promotional budgets. We need a lot more to play in the sandbox, so to speak. Because of that, every decision I have ever made has been motivated by staying alive and keeping the doors open with the employees that I have.

“I’m not being overly dramatic,” she adds. “I’m being really truthful.”

Given the disastrous performance over the last year of Wal-Mart Stores’ version of inexpensive designer fashion — with a collection called “George M.E.” by the lesser-known designer Mark Eisen — the union of Kohl’s and Ms. Wang is a gamble. But democratized style and cheap chic peddled by famous names has already found a successful niche, whether it’s Martha Stewart at Kmart or Isaac Mizrahi at Target. Long lines for the latest Karl Lagerfeld, Stella McCartney or Viktor & Rolf designs at H&M, or Vivienne Westwood shoes for Nine West at Macy’s, or for offerings from budding designers making clothes for Gap and Uniqlo, have helped midmarket stores increase sales and gain more cachet with consumers.

On the other hand, there have been notable blunders besides that at Wal-Mart, which said its weakness in fashion had crimped its recent sales. Kohl’s itself made a modest attempt to move away from its classic looks four years ago, but customers balked at designs like moose-themed shirts. Sales of its new cosmetic lines by Estée Lauder, repackaged as “American Beauty” in Kohl’s stores, have disappointed analysts.

By making a long-term commitment to Kohl’s, Ms. Wang may be navigating even more dangerous waters. Many high-end designers fear that creating mass collections undermines their prestige among affluent customers, a worry rooted in the classic example of the downfall of Halston, the designer of sexy jersey gowns for the Studio 54 set: in the 1980’s, luxury retailers dropped his collection after Halston signed a deal for a cheaper line with J. C. Penney.

But Kohl’s and Ms. Wang are plowing ahead — boldly so, by the look of their collection. Called “Simply Vera — Vera Wang,” it includes the designer’s high-end signatures (or what fashionistas politely call “directional” designs), which may be challenging for a broader audience. Among the offerings are an inky black jacquard bubble skirt with an elasticized hem ($98), a charcoal knit cap the size of a chef’s toque ($25) and an ash-colored ribbed wool coat with short sleeves ($128).

A short-sleeve coat? At Kohl’s? Well, yes, says Kevin Mansell, Kohl’s president.

“When we launch these brands, often there are questions either on the investor or media side of ‘How do you know it’s going to be good?’ ” he says. “They say, ‘Vera Wang at Kohl’s seems more of a stretch,’ ‘It’s the next step up’ and ‘Why do you feel so confident?’ The reason is, we do a ton of research.”

As negotiations over a deal with Ms. Wang stretched out over more than a year, Kohl’s surveyed consumers about their perceptions of the designer and their expectations for the proper price and quality of her collections. “This is not like putting up dartboards, throwing darts and seeing which ones stick,” Mr. Mansell says. “This is really based on quantitative research.”

For Ms. Wang, however, it is also about something much more personal.
“This is more about keeping my business going so I can continue to do what I love most,” she says.

AT 57, Vera Wang has worked in the fashion industry for 37 years — longer if you count her college summers as a sales associate at Yves Saint Laurent on Madison Avenue — first as an assistant and an editor at Vogue magazine and then as an accessories designer for Ralph Lauren. She started her signature company in 1990.

She grew up in Manhattan, in an apartment on an expensive block of the Upper East Side. There, her father, C. C. Wang, the son of a former war minister under Chiang Kai-shek, who made a fortune in pharmaceutical sales to China, discouraged her from pursuing a fashion career. After studying at Sarah Lawrence College in Yonkers, N.Y., and at the Sorbonne in Paris, Ms. Wang asked her father to allow her to take fashion courses in New York, but he refused. “He said, ‘If you really think you’re that good, go get a job.’ And I did; I went to Vogue,” she recalls.

In her late 30s, Ms. Wang went to work for Mr. Lauren and discovered that she loved to design. When she spotted a woman carrying a plaid tote she had made, Ms. Wang said she started “jumping up and down.” At 40, she married Arthur Becker, a technology executive. Only then, sensing that Ms. Wang had demonstrated that her interest in fashion was sincere, did her father agree to finance her own fashion collection — with the condition that she design bridal dresses.

“What I haven’t said before is that when my father suggested that I go into the bridal business, I had lost that desire really to go off on my own by then,” says Ms. Wang, whose father died in September. “This had been a dream for me since I lived in Paris, but my father wouldn’t do it. He wouldn’t pay for it. He wouldn’t help me. I had been in the business 21 years by then.”

But once Ms. Wang got started, she quickly made her mark. She became widely known in the 1990’s for modernizing bridal design, which had traditionally been dominated by billowing poufs and antique lace and ignored by serious designers. Sharon Stone and Mariah Carey have been among the brides in Ms. Wang’s gowns, the most elaborate of which can cost $15,000 to $30,000. Jennifer Lopez ordered a Vera Wang dress, but never wore it, during her derailed engagement to the actor Ben Affleck, then borrowed another for her marriage to the singer Marc Anthony in 2004.

Ms. Wang’s frequent television appearances, often commenting on red-carpet fashion, as well as heavy magazine coverage of celebrities wearing her gowns, made her a household name and made her designs synonymous with stylish weddings. She developed the core of her bridal business with slightly less expensive dresses — the simplest currently start at around $3,000 — and a lucrative roster of licensed products like china, crystal and bedding that are geared toward bridal registries.

Last year, she says, products bearing her name, including a successful fragrance, had retail sales of $300 million (although Ms. Wang receives only a small fraction of that amount, probably in the range of 5 to 10 percent, through royalties). But her real passion, on which she has focused for the last four years, is women’s fashion — apart from bridal.

Her nonbridal aesthetic may best be described as ballerina grunge. She is fond of intentionally frayed hems and raw edges, and complicated silhouettes of slim bodysuits worn under oversized layers of heavy knits. A professional ice skater as a child, Ms. Wang later developed passions for art, dance and ballet that routinely influence her work, with colors that are almost always rendered in muddy, somber shades — in contrast with the cheerier bridal designs that she felt had handcuffed her creatively. She once designed an entire collection around the theme of the raw, down-and-dirty HBO Western series “Deadwood.”

Ms. Wang says that her more recent fashion endeavors have been much more expensive for her to finance and support than her bridal line — it costs her about $10 million a year to finance just the fashion line — and that is what led her into Kohl’s arms. Sitting at a conference table in her design studio on 39th Street, near Seventh Avenue, wearing a jacket with inverted pleats on capped sleeves, she speaks pragmatically about that decision: the risk of devaluing her trademark was outweighed by the resources and business expertise that Kohl’s brings to the partnership.

“I didn’t spend 20 years going to Harvard Business School and then Morgan Stanley,” she says. “I spent 20 years styling clothes.”

From a branding perspective, Ms. Wang has much at stake. In a recent survey of 1,500 consumers with an average net worth of $3 million, the Luxury Institute, a research firm that tracks designer brands, found that the exclusivity of Ms. Wang’s name was tied with Hermès — a fashion house so prestigious that only its best customers are invited to the seasonal sales that female customers covet. (The survey did not take Ms. Wang’s deal with Kohl’s into account).

“She has been very focused on the high end for a long time, so it actually concerns me that she is doing a Mizrahi,” says Milton Pedraza, the chief executive of the Luxury Institute. “It may not affect the prestige of Vera Wang, but if you’re a betting person, if a brand becomes ubiquitous, how exclusive can it be?”

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17-06-2007
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second half of the nytimes article:

But Ms. Wang says consumers’ desire to find better-designed fashion and home lines at mass retailers, fed by media attention for lines like Mr. Mizrahi’s at Target, justified her decision to design for class and mass. (A person familiar with the Target design program said Mr. Mizrahi’s merchandise has become a $100 million business there.) Ms. Wang says she plans to use the proceeds from her contract with Kohl’s to finance new stores for her signature line in New York and Los Angeles, which she hopes will reduce the possibility of a Halston-like fate.

Still, some fallout has already occurred. Macy’s, a major Kohl’s competitor, carries several home and intimate apparel lines that bear Ms. Wang’s name, aimed at the upper echelon of department store customers and bridal registries.

Wanting exclusivity, Terry J. Lundgren, the chief executive of Federated, Macy’s parent company, dropped Ms. Wang’s lingerie line after she signed with Kohl’s. (Alas, Mr. Lundgren’s wife wore a Vera Wang wedding dress down the aisle in 2005.)

LINDA PAYNE, a 48-year-old nurse with a Vogue-like sense of style, is ecstatic that Vera Wang is coming to the Kohl’s store in a Paramus, N.J., mall. “I love Vera Wang,” she said in a parking-lot interview outside the store. “Her gowns are outrageous. My girlfriend just found one of her dresses on discount for her daughter’s prom.”

But another customer, who would not give her name as she headed into Kohl’s with a teenage daughter in tow, perused a catalog of Ms. Wang’s clothing and deemed all of it to be a bad fit for her.

“It’s too over the top,” she said. “I couldn’t imagine wearing that in my construction office. This is not ‘mom’ clothing. I would not wear that to work, or to a P.T.A. meeting, so where would I wear that?”

Such is the finicky — and often unpredictable — customer base that Kohl’s and Ms. Wang are trying to crack. The partnership represents the first time that Kohl’s will offer a product line bearing the imprint of a high-class, high-gloss Seventh Avenue designer, and is the pièce de résistance of the retailer’s image overhaul. While it has spent much of its 35-year-history courting middle-income Americans — and intends to continue doing exactly that — it wants to give its customers a broader, more stylized range of choices.

“We’re not going to be the person to bring fashion first,” says Mr. Mansell, the Kohl’s president. “But I think we can bring fashion very close after that and at a much better value and in a much more efficient way.”

Selling fashion by a renowned designer is a far reach for a mass retailer that, in the beginning, was never supposed to sell clothes. Max Kohl, a Polish immigrant, opened his first grocery store in Milwaukee in 1946 and turned it into the largest food chain in Wisconsin. In 1962 — the same year that Wal-Mart, Target and Kmart opened their doors — Mr. Kohl started selling clothes the same way he sold food. Instead of finding a traditional department store layout, customers found shopping carts, doorside checkout counters, big price stickers on the racks and a wide circular lane at the center of the store.

Today, Kohl’s offers more sophisticated layouts and merchandising, and since 2002 has introduced exclusive brands like Daisy Fuentes, Chaps, Tony Hawk and Apt. 9 that speak to different demographics, like teenagers or working moms. But it still is well aware of who shops there. Having closely monitored the successes and failures of competitors banking on the prestige of name designers, Kohl’s says it is sensitive to the perils of moving its fashion threshold so far forward, possibly beyond the expectations of customers who rely on it as a neighborhood destination for a quick purchase of sneakers, a dress or everyday work-friendly attire

Still, the company says that survey after survey has shown that its customers, who are increasingly fashion savvy, adore Ms. Wang and expect more style and higher prices in a collection she would design for Kohl’s.
The biggest challenge in designing for Kohl’s, Ms. Wang said, was adjusting to the concept of producing fewer styles in greater quantities. She is a perfectionist who has occasionally tossed out bolts of extravagantly treated lace and chiffon that did not meet her expectations. She and her design team typically create 300 to 400 designs for a season but select only about 55 to present to the media and to stores just before her runway show, ultimately discarding the rest. It is a wasteful process, but one that allows Ms. Wang to show only the best of her work each season.

For Kohl’s, her average monthly delivery will consist of 20 pieces, which need to be mapped out months in advance.

“I wasn’t used to being very, very merchandise-focused — to have to choose and make the right decision and then be able to put it back together on the floor as a collection,” Ms. Wang says. “I couldn’t just say, ‘Here’s a sequin dress and here’s a little short skirt.’ They would say, ‘You have five skirts, Vera,’ and then we had to choose together which are the best five.”
Ms. Wang began meeting with a team of Kohl’s designers in October, when she assembled some of her most popular designs from previous seasons, her favorite handbags and her jewelry collection. There was an oversize satchel made of white snakeskin, and necklaces and charms with early Russian Empire and Japanese influences. To brighten the line of black clothing that Kohl’s designers had shown her, she persuaded the company to add some more unexpected designs, like a skirt in gold brocade.

“Kohl’s went, ‘Yikes,’ ” she says. “ ‘Vera, this is for nearly 1,000 stores. You can’t just start throwing things in,’ like I do on collection.”

But in limited quantities, the skirt was added, looking nearly identical to one shown in her fall runway collection that will cost $890 when it arrives in stores like Bergdorf Goodman and Louis Boston. The Kohl’s version will be $68.

For his part, Mr. Mansell is bemused by any concerns that Simply Vera is “too fashion.” The bigger issue, he says, is ensuring a proper balance of contemporary and classic clothes.

“Kohl’s was way too heavily weighted to very classic and traditional styling,” he says. “We were doing a disservice to our customer because we were duplicating so many things in either different brands and labels or at the same price point.”

To make way for Simply Vera, Kohl’s reduced its stock of labels with older names like Villager and Sag Harbor, and it dropped the Norton McNaughton label.

Kohl’s leaves pricier megabrands — Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren and Nautica — to traditional department stores like Macy’s, Bon-Ton and Dillard’s. Mr. Mansell says that the retailing environment is just as competitive and cutthroat as ever, and that Kohl’s wants to remain out front.

Kohl’s has also benefited from the troubled consolidation wave that has swept over American department stores, high and low. The 2005 merger of Federated Department Stores and May Department Stores, and Macy’s absorption of many historical local nameplates, have turned off many mall shoppers. The combination of Kmart and Sears has not done much for the image of either chain.

“Other than inflation, the pie essentially isn’t getting any bigger,” Mr. Mansell says. “It’s all market share and we are trying to attack market share wherever we see weakness.”

Growth in Kohl’s sales, profits and number of stores has coincided with the exclusive brands strategy. Last year, sales were $15.5 billion, up from $7.5 billion in 2001. The company’s profits more than doubled over the same period, to $1.1 billion from $458 million. It has also doubled the number of stores it operates — to 834 from 382 — all at a time when overall clothing sales have languished. Kohl’s may be smaller than Macy’s and J. C. Penney, but by one closely watched measure in retailing, it beats both of them. Last year, Kohl’s sold $224 for every square foot of space in its store, compared with $171 for Macy’s and $166 for J. C. Penney, according to A. G. Edwards.
“Kohl’s has built a significantly better mousetrap,” says Bill Dreher, a retail analyst at Deutsche Bank Securities.

KOHL’S also intends to increase the size of its average sales transaction. Its five-year-old roster of exclusive brands, which are displayed prominently in various departments, now accounts for 8 percent of its annual sales. By adding Simply Vera and a Food Network-branded collection of housewares this fall, Kohl’s believes that it can increase exclusive brands’ share of its sales to 10 percent.

“We get more visits to our stores than our competitors, which is not surprising because they are more convenient and closer to neighborhoods,” Mr. Mansell says. The average sale is for $50, and about half of customers buy items from only one department.

“A very small percentage of consumers on a visit buy something in women’s apparel and, in the same visit, buy something in women’s accessories,” Mr. Mansell says. “And they’re right across the aisle.”

By placing Ms. Wang’s designs in multiple areas of the store, Kohl’s wants shoppers to explore — and shop — in more departments. Ms. Wang herself says she shops at Kohl’s. She has two daughters, 13 and 16, who buy cargo shorts there by the armload. “Listen, I’ve been in Sports Authority, P. C. Richard’s and Barnes & Noble,” she offers. “That’s my other life.” Prices for luxury fashion keep going up, to the point that Ms. Wang said it is a major achievement to sell 250 pieces of any one style from her high-fashion collection.

She says that “$3,000 is the new $1,000, and $6,000 is the new $3,000,” adding: “Actually, maybe $10,000 is the new $3,000. The truth of it is, it can be very frustrating when you have built up some degree of a name in this country and not be able to dress more people.”

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