Kohl’s Opens West Coast Private Brand Design Office

The Wisconsin-based Middle America department store Kohl’s announced it would open a West Coast design studio in Santa Monica, California. The 6,000-square-foot facility at 2700 Colorado Avenue is located in the heart of the city’s Entertainment Corridor, where many film companies keep up offices.

The design studio is scheduled to open January 16th, but the retailer is still in the process of hiring the 20 graphic arts and trend workers, who will work there, said Scott Morris, a Kohl’s representative. Nor had the retailer named a director of the design studio.

Kohl’s is opening its Santa Monica studio to gain access to the West Coast design community. The design studios also show how important Private Brands are to Kohl’s business, said Kevin Mansell, Kohl’s chairman, president and chief executive. “This investment reinforces our commitment to offering world-class brands at compelling value to our customers,” Mansell said.

News of the Santa Monica studio broke at the same time Kohl’s announced it is expanding its New York design studio. Located at 1400 Broadway, it will double in size to more than 100,000 square feet when it is completed in 2014.

The company’s design studio in New York, located near the Garment District, will double in size to 100,000 square feet by 2014. It currently houses 140 designers, however it is expected to nearly double to approximately 250.

Kohl’s opened its original design studio in January 2007. At that time, the team worked on a small number of exclusive Private Brands including Simply Vera Vera Wang, Elle and Food Network. Since then the retailer has expanded their portfolio of Private Brands to include more than a dozen exclusive brands including Dana Buchman, FILA Sport and Candies. Last fall, it launched the Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony collections. This spring, Kohl’s will unveil an exclusive collection under the Rock & Republic brand as part of a licensing agreement with VF Corp.

Private Brands made up 51% of Kohl’s sales during its 2011 third quarter. The retailer hopes to support the success of its Private Brands and build new ones, said Peggy Eskenasi, Kohl’s senior executive vice president of product development.



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Christopher Durham

Christopher Durham is the president of My Private Brand and the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He is a strategist, author, consultant and retailer who built brands at Delhaize-owned Food Lion, and lead strategy and brand development for Lowe’s Home Improvement. He has consulted with retailers around the world on their private brand portfolios including: Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro (Canada), TLW (Taiwan) and Hola (Taiwan).

Durham has published five definitive books on private brands, including his first book, Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project. In 2017, he will debut his newest book, Vanguard: Vintage Originals, a visual tour of innovation and disruption in private brand going back to the mid-1800’s.
Dynamic in his presentation while down to earth and frank in his opinions, he has presented at numerous conferences, including FUSE, The Dieline Conference, Packaging that Sells, Omnishopper and PLMA’a annual trade show in Chicago.

Durham lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Laraine, and two daughters, Olivia and Sarah.