The Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin-based retailer on Monday launched K/Lab, an in-house, quicker-turn clothing line targeting millennial-aged women. To ensure K/Lab styles hit stores while trends are peaking, Kohl’s has worked with its suppliers to trim turnaround time to between 12 and 15 weeks. New looks will be added every week and when they’re gone, they’re gone.
But don’t compare K/Lab’s business model to Zara—Kohl’s is calling it “real-time” fashion. Each collection is 100 percent data-informed, using Trendalytics, Google Trends and Instagram and consists of about two weeks of trend-gathering.
Rather than roll out K/Lab to all of Kohl’s more than 1,100 stores across the country, the retailer decided to launch it in only 21 locations, picked because of their proximity to the type of customer the line wants to reach. It’s also available online, but with a separate landing page to the rest of Kohl’s offering. Prices range from $28 for a ribbed velvet mock neck crop top to $78 for an oversized quilted bomber jacket. Shirts and skirts retail for under $58, dresses and pants from $58 to $68 and jackets for $78.
“Whether [K/Lab] works or not, for me, is less relevant. It’s teaching us new skills and new tools on how we can approach the business,” Michelle Gass, chief merchandising and customer officer for Kohl’s, told Business Insider. “It’s helping us think differently, so it’s already a success in my mind.”
Kohl’s isn’t the first department store to test a millennial-focused fashion line. J.C. Penney piloted Belle + Sky in 50 stores a year ago, before expanding its availability to 500 stores in February, priced from $40 to $100. Similarly, Target teamed up with website Who What Wear to launch a collection last January, comprising street-style staples ranging in price from $16.99 to $69.99.
Kohl’s comparable store sales declined 1.7% in the three months ended Oct. 29. Profits improved 22 percent to reach $146 million or 83 cents per diluted share in the same period, up from $120 million or 63 cents per diluted share a year ago.