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How Kohl’s Is Modernizing for the Millennial Mom

Kohl’s is all about the millennial mom and millennial families—but there’s just one little hitch.

“She shops Kohl’s for her kids,” the chain’s chief merchandising officer Doug Howe shared at WWD Retail 2030 last week, speaking of the Kohl’s consumer, “but she finds the rest of the store difficult to navigate.”

The largely off-mall retailer with more than 1,150 stores in 49 states has a number of strategies up its sleeve to reverse this situation and give millennial women more to discover when she visits a Kohl’s location.

Beyond rolling out new brands, including an upcoming Nine West collection of exclusive apparel timed for release this fall, the retailer is experimenting with a new in-store merchandising initiative—assembling head-to-toe looks from multiple brands in what it’s calling The Outfit Bar, Howe added. Kohl’s is banking on this outfit inspiration appealing to “time-starved” shoppers who need help cutting through all the noise in a sea of choice. Fifty stores will rearrange the women’s department to accommodate The Outfit Bar in the coming weeks, Howe noted.

On Wednesday, Kohl’s announced it will be the exclusive retailer of a new addition to its lineup of women’s brands: Elizabeth and James, the label launched in 2007 by 32-year-old twin celebrity designers Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. The latter credited Kohl’s with “doing a great job with innovation and thinking differently about omnichannel retail” while her sister believes the retailer’s “extensive store network and digital platform” will enable Elizabeth and James to expand its reach.

The first product from the collection of apparel, accessories, handbags and beauty items are scheduled to land in most stores and on e-commerce for the holiday season, Kohl’s said. The twins will continue to helm Elizabeth and James as co-creative directors but will operate out of Kohl’s design office in New York City. Kohl’s declined to specify whether the collection will be size inclusive.

Howe said in a statement announcing the Elizabeth and James news that incorporating this brand increases “newness and fashion relevancy” for shoppers on the hunt for style-forward apparel in stores. “We also know that Elizabeth and James will support our efforts to drive new customers, particularly millennials, to Kohl’s,” he added.