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Bill Blass Makes a Colorful Comeback

Bill Blass announced its return to the market with designer Chris Benz at the helm and a pure-play e-commerce strategy. The collection goes live on the site on Nov. 2nd and will include women’s ready-to-wear, handbags, accessories and shoes.

Now that physical stores have become many brands’ focal point for storytelling, Bill Blass is, for the moment, taking the road less-traveled.

Bill Blass President and COO Stuart Goldblatt is not worried about the company’s ability to speak to its new consumer. He referenced a quotation by Issey Miyake speaking on Bill Blass, “His designs are powerful in that they arise from a dialogue between Bill and the American woman.”

Now, Goldblatt explained, Benz will take the role of creating the conversation with the Bill Blass woman, but Benz will create a modern type of dialogue. His social media presence will play a large part in spreading the word, as the designer has 200,000 social media followers across channels. The brand will also operate with an in-house digital marketing team who will keep their audience up-to-date on video and editorial content through e-mail newsletters. The showroom in the Flatiron District will function as an atelier where they will hold trunk shows at which visitors can try on clothes and have their purchases sent within a day or two.

The dialogue between the brand and the consumer is also present in the clothes themselves, which have a very clear customer, someone active with a sense of humor and a love of both classic styles and modern interpretations. Benz, who folded his eponymous line in 2012, created a collection that hinges around a distinct, primary color palette and apparel that plays with texture using sequins, ruffles and sheer fabric adorned with clusters of paillettes. The brand is focused on “being the cherry on top,” explained Lisa Smith, a PR consultant for the brand. These pieces will be women’s special, signature items, rather than closet staples.

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The footwear collection is designed for the woman-on-the-go, explained Smith, meaning that most styles are flat and all contain memory foam support. A slipper with a dyed sheepskin upper is a standout piece, along with a quirky two-tone bowling shoe. Loafers, available as suede slip-ons or slick heels, round out the collection. The shoes, along with the rest of the line, are priced in the contemporary range, beginning at $248.

Rather than focusing on seasonal delivery, Bill Blass will release continuous collections, and will run an in-house digital studio that will allow new product to go from photography to online availability in record time.

Though the Bill Blass brand is beginning exclusively with e-commerce, the company intends to move into physical retailing in the near future. In 2017, the company plans to begin opening branded stores, and the team is currently working on retail partnerships.

Goldblatt said, “We will be omnichannel eventually, but we’ll be led through our own e-commerce. It gives us greater control of the brand and ability to speak directly to the consumer.” He added, “I believe everyone loves the convenience of e-commerce, but still really likes the ability to touch and feel and have a selection.”