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Kai Ryssdal: Macy's is a retail institution. It's a retail institution with a 152-year history. But like just about every other big retailer these days, it's got to worry about becoming history.
So the chain's taking a cue from the newer, hipper guys on the block. Stores like H&M and Forever 21.
Macy's said today its going to start collaborating with hot new designers to sell their creations, but for a limited time only. As in customers better get here fast.
Marketplace's Janet Babin explains it's all about the buzz.
Janet Babin: Meet the first designer Macy's hopes will ignite that shopping buzz:
Kinder Aggugini: My name is Kinder Aggugini.
The Italian-born Aggugini describes his style as...
Aggugini: As an imaginary marriage between Coco Chanel and Sid Vicious. Chic, elegant, mixed with rough edge and rock 'n' roll.
Not exactly "Miracle on 34th Street" stuff. But the competition left Macy's with little choice. Stores like Target have had huge success with the high-low strategy -- high fashion designs at low prices.
So retail strategist Wendy Liebman says Macy's had to go big.
Wendy Liebman: They need to do something more esoteric or they'll look like they're just doing what Target's doing, or H&M's doing.
Macy's won't say which designers are up next, but a new one will hit stores every two months starting in February. The lines will be limited, available in about 250 Macy's stores. Better to make the designs exclusive: buy it now at Macy's for $50 dollars or tomorrow, it'll be on eBay for $500.
That urgency appeals to fashion-forward young women -- just about the only group that's buying now.
Frank Badillo is an economist with Kanter Retail.
Badillo: Some of the strongest gains of late have been among younger shoppers, and department store retailers are trying to inject the designer names to create excitement.
And, at a cost of $50 to $300...
..designs could be very exciting for Macy's.
I'm Janet Babin for Marketplace.