Saks Fifth Avenue Is Hosting Its Very First Emerging Designer Showcase

Photo: Courtesy of Saks Fifth Avenue.
Over the past few years, retailers have been getting creative in how they engage with new talent and bring up-and-coming brands into a more traditional fold. In 2014, Lord & Taylor first announced it was teaming up with the West Coast incubator and trade show Brand Assembly to stock a concept shop of new names within its Fifth Avenue flagship (as well as online). Similarly, Nordstrom has its Pop-In@Nordstrom (which began in 2013), an Olivia Kim-curated selection of emerging designers, products, and ideas that is updated monthly. And finally, Bloomingdale's has an ongoing partnership with the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), whom they have worked with on its Fashion Incubator program, hosted its book party, and created football helmets with its designers (and the NFL).

Well, Saks Fifth Avenue is taking a different approach. The department store conglomerate is hoping emerging designers come its way by inviting them to submit their work for a chance to meet with its team of buyers — and all prospectives have to do is send them an email. Really.

On Wednesday, Saks announced an open call for its first-ever 'Emerging Designers Showcase' — an opportunity for up-and-coming womenswear labels to score face time with its team of buyers. To receive the opportunity to present their collection IRL, the first step is sending their lookbooks to the high-end retailer's fashion office by March 31 for review. And while that sounds easy enough, the designers also have to meet a certain set of criteria in order to be eligible: They must have a minimum of eight and a maximum of 12 samples readily available, as well as line sheets with wholesale and retail pricing, and a guarantee that they have the production capabilities to fulfill any possible orders. At the end of the showcase (April 5), design newbies could potentially hit the holy grail of the first steps toward "making it": Saks buying into their line.

For Saks, this new showcase isn't just a way to put new designers on the radar of its fashion and buying offices — it's a way to reach even more talent that hasn't been discovered yet, which is something retailers are constantly on the hunt for: "We work tirelessly to scout collections, searching for the best emerging talent in the fashion industry," Tracy Margolies, the company's chief merchant, said in a statement. "I’m passionate about launching this platform and excited to extend this opportunity to all of the unbelievably talented designers on the market."
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