Danielle Bernstein is breaking up with Macy’s.
The fashion influencer and entrepreneur is moving her nameplate label online. Starting April 8, the affordable Danielle Bernstein brand, the designer’s first venture into the world of ready-to-wear, will be available exclusively on shopweworewhat.com, the fashion blog and e-commerce site Bernstein started.
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The Danielle Bernstein collection, which launched in early 2020, could previously only be found in Macy’s stores and the retailer’s website. The designer said the decision to exit Macy’s Inc. had nothing to do with the department store. In fact, the Danielle Bernstein brand topped more than $13 million in revenues during its year at Macy’s. The mutually beneficial partnership also helped attract newer, younger customers to Macy’s: 58 percent of the consumers shopping the Bernstein brand were new to the department store. It comes as little surprise then that the retailer offered Bernstein another two-year contract to continue selling her collection exclusively at Macy’s.
But Bernstein said the brand was always intended to be at Macy’s for just one year.
“At the end of that year we made the decision to bring the brand in-house with my current partners who handle my Shop We Wore What manufacturing, to bring two really bold brands under one roof,” Bernstein told WWD. “So it’ll be a cohesive shopping experience where you’ll be able to shop both brands separately, but also check out as one.
“Macy’s was an amazing launch partner,” she added. “I just felt like this was the right business decision for me to have more control, over quality control, and [offer] more of a direct line to my customers. I’m so thankful for what Macy’s has done to help me launch the Danielle Bernstein brand. That’s not to say that Macy’s won’t be a retail partner down the line.”
For now, though, the Danielle Bernstein brand’s two upcoming collections (spring and summer) will be housed on the We Wore What website. Each rtw collection will consist of about 24 pieces, including items such as suits, pants, dresses and blouses.
“I definitely want my customers and followers to know and trust the fit and the quality of the brand,” said Bernstein, who has 2.6 million followers on Instagram. “And then we’ll be opening the brand up in the fall to pretty much all the same retail partners that shop We Wore What has.” Those partners include Selfridges, Nordstrom, Revolve, Shopbop, Bloomingdale’s and Intermix.
True to form, Bernstein said her eponymous label will continue to be affordable and offered in sizes 00 to 16.
“Ninety-nine-point-nine percent of the pieces are under $100,” she said. “There’s a jacket here or there that we can’t reach that price point with. But, my production and manufacturing partners are so incredible and so we’re able to have really top-quality products at that affordable price point.”
Meanwhile, We Wore What continues to grow. Bernstein describes the site as “more category specific” — compared with the Danielle Bernstein rtw label — selling swim, denim, accessories and activewear separates, among other things. We Wore What includes past collaborations with brands like Joe’s Jeans and swimwear brand Onia.
Total company revenues at the e-commerce shop grew 300 percent in 2020, compared with 2019, despite the decline in overall apparel sales during the pandemic. In addition, each new collection earns an average of $1 million per launch day thanks Bernstein’s social media savvy — or perhaps because she simply knows how to give customers more of what they want.
We Wore What launched activewear and loungewear during the pandemic, for example. (Activewear sold out the day of launch.)
“Our launch days are always our most successful day of sales,” Bernstein said. “Our customers know that when we launch, certain styles will sell out. And so the hype for the collections and for the launch days becomes very real and becomes something that our customers become really excited for.
“And we talk about it together [on social media] and we prepare for it together,” she continued. “One of the most important things I do before I launch a collection is really prepare my followers for what they’re going to be seeing, so that they know exactly what they’re going to buy before the collection even launches. Whether that is through fit guides, sharing line sheets with them, behind-the-scenes moments, taking Q&A’s or going live with them and really communicating with my customers so that they feel really comfortable with their purchases.”
Bernstein’s brand also continues to grow despite a slew of negative headlines in the last year, accusing Bernstein of copying designs from independent designers. (Bernstein has denied all accusations.)
In November, Bernstein’s We Gave What, the charitable arm of We Wore What, partnered with New York City’s Showfields, the 14,000-square-foot retail space in Manhattan, for a three-month in-person curated market of some of her favorite indie brands. The purpose was to give the digital native small businesses the chance to showcase their products in a real-life setting, many for the first time.
“Consumers want to feel like they’re investing their dollars into a person or cause and products that they really can know and trust,” Bernstein said. “With We Gave What, my Shop We Wore What customers feel like their purchases mean something. Obviously they’ve grown to know and trust that they’re getting top-quality products that are going to fit well. But now they also know that their purchases, or a portion of their proceeds, will be going to a group that really needs it right now.”
The Bernstein x Showsfields exhibit will soon return for round two with 17 new brands. Except this time, the setup is moving to Showfields’ more conspicuous ground-floor location on the corner of Bond and Lafayette streets.
“It’s like a very pinch-me moment for me and the brands that are going to be a part of it,” Bernstein said.