Barneys Goes Green

Financial Times, March 2 2007

It is one thing, of course, for a brand to anticipate all eventualities in consumer behaviour and do a little organic line. It is another, more mainstream, thing entirely when a major international department store follows suit. Yet that is exactly what Barneys New York is doing this year, launching a far- reaching green initiative billed as “environmentally focused grooviness” and beginning with a new apparel range produced exclusively by organic clothing company, Loomstate.

“We took on this project because we were experiencing great sales with Loomstate,” explains the store’s fashion director Julie Gilhart. “We were selling out. We wanted to offer a more exclusive collection of organic clothing that was special to only Barneys. We have a very discriminating client, and they love exclusive, limited product.”

The Loomstate for Barneys Green range will soft launch with T-shirts and sweaters priced around $80-160, according to Loomstate’s Scott Hahn. He believes the collaboration heralds a wider commitment to the eco movement. “Barneys is a leader in fashion retail – a style valedictorian of sorts – and we hope to create a code of conduct by advising on sourcing and terms of engagement. We want to show the way.”

Still, explains Gilhart, who is passionate about the project and sees it as a way to emotionally engage the consumer for the long term: “First and foremost we wanted the collection to be stylish and hip. The fact that it is organic is Oadded value’ to the customer. “The challenge was how to take organic principles and translate them into clothing that can compete on a level with all the other great designers we carry at Barneys.” Besides, Gilhart argues, “I do not think the eco/organic/fair trade movement is a trend. I think it is the beginning of a major shift in consciousness in the fashion business.”

Leave a Reply