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Fashion retailer launches designer ‘Lab’


Nordstrom is taking new designers under its wing, and giving them some “space” for exposure.

The department store retailer has launched “The Lab,” an incubator project that will showcase and support emerging new designers in select stores and online—and also give it a way to offer customes more unique fashions.

The program was conceived and curated by Olivia Kim, VP of creative projects at Nordstrom, who has a reputation for being a champion of emerging designers in the fashion industry. Upon discovering a subset of new designers just starting their collections, her goal was to develop a place dedicated to recognizing their talent and brands. That was when she created The Lab.

The project will kick off its inaugural season by presenting five up-and-coming designers: Eckhaus Latta, Vejas, Eric Schlösberg, A.W.A.K.E. and Dilara Findikoglu. Kim and her buying team selected a handful of looks from the five designers, including exclusive and custom-made items signature to each one’s aesthetic.

All designs will be featured in “Space at Nordstrom,” an in-store designer boutique which Kim launched in fall 2015. The department, which is only found in a select number of Nordstrom stores, was created to promote emerging designers within cross-category collections of apparel, accessories, home goods and fragrance.

"A brand has to be relatively established in order to support a substantial wholesale business," Kim said. "We wanted to find a way to show the truly new brands just starting out, and to recognize the great, raw talent out there. To say we see you, and we want to support you.”

The Lab will be an ongoing program in "Space at Nordstrom," refreshed with new brands each season in order to give each designer a spotlight to help grow their businesses. The Lab designs will be featured in Space locations in Seattle, Los Angeles, Chicago, Vancouver, Toronto and online.
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