Dress Barn is looking to shed its dowdy image and up the fashion factor of its offerings. Known for being the kind of store your unstylish country aunt frequents, the retailer is getting a new image with a trendier aesthetic. First order of business? Get those design collaborations on lock.
The retailer is working on a shop-in-shop project called Dressbar, which will feature dresses designed by Carmen Marc Valvo, Adrianna Papell’s Michael Smaldone and Heidi Weisel. The trio has each created a range of 6 to 10 dresses that will live under the respective labels Luxe by Carmen Marc Valvo, Lovely by Adrianna Papell and Mixt by Heidi Weisel. Prices will range from $42 to $70.
Dressbar is due to launch March 4 at 25 Dress Barn stores with plans to expand the shop-in-shop model to other locations over time. Many of the bars will be outfitted with iPads to make shopping easier and Dressbar will have a dedicated website that will include editorial pieces as well as an e-commerce option. A pop-up shop is opening in Manhattan’s Flatiron district the day of the launch.
This sounds like the dawning of a new era for Dress Barn. Retailers like J.Crew and Ann Taylor have had quite a bit of success rebranding their images to become the toast of the fashion set. Perhaps Dress Barn can harness some of that magic through its designer collaborations. If the stuff is cute, we have no doubts it will sell. If it’s not, well, it may be back to the drawing board for the retailer.