NEW YORK — Lord & Taylor is stepping back into the children’s footwear business.
The retailer next month will begin rolling out new kids’ shoe departments in 20 of its 46 doors, including its Fifth Avenue flagship in Manhattan and other key locations in the New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit and Baltimore metropolitan areas. Nina will serve as the sole girls’ supplier and Sperry Top-Sider as the only boys’ brand.
“We believe children’s shoes will really round out the shopping experience for our customer,” said Lord & Taylor SVP and GMM Jonathan Greller. “Lord & Taylor should be a place where the consumer can continue to shop and not have to leave the store and go somewhere else for children’s shoes.”
Greller added that the kids’ business overall has been a bright spot for the retailer, posting double-digit increases in recent months. “We expect [the addition of footwear] to even further lift the entire category for us.”
Jules Natowitz, VP and DMM of children’s, said Nina and Sperry are ideal partners to kick off Lord & Taylor’s return to the kids’ shoe business. (The retailer operated a multibranded department until several decades ago.)
“Both brands perfectly represent our core customer, who is looking for value and fashion,” she said, adding that the store already does a strong business with Nina and Sperry in adult sizes.
Over time, Lord & Taylor hopes to add additional vendors to the mix.
“We have no specific timeline at the moment, but our intention is to eventually expand to other brands,” said Greller. Plans also call for installing kids’ shoe departments in the company’s remaining 26 stores, possibly as early as next spring.
Aimed at convenience, the departments are designed to be self-serve, with shoe boxes stacked in shelving fixtures on the selling floor, and a sizing mat and Brannock devices available. However, a designated sales associate will be on hand at all times to assist customers. “We want to make it as easy to shop as possible for customers,” said Greller.
Nina Kids EVP Alan Paulenoff called the partnership “a great fit,” noting that early testing on Lord & Taylor’s website has pointed to strong demand for the brand’s shoes.
“The response has been very positive,” he said. “It’s a category that Lord & Taylor has been missing.” For the back-to-school launch, Nina will offer a focused assortment of about 30 styles, including casual and dress looks. “The idea is for the shoes to complement Lord & Taylor’s children’s ready-to-wear offerings,” Paulenoff said. The brand also will likely create exclusive styles for the retailer.
Lord & Taylor plans to promote the new departments with special launch events on Aug. 21 featuring a back-to-school fashion show in all of the 20 stores, as well as with window and in-store signage.