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Saks Is Banking on These Fashion Brands to Make It Cool Again

Now that the fall orders are in, we know which designers the new Saks has its eye on.
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Saks Fifth Avenue's revamp is well underway under President Marigay McKee, who was poached from Harrods last fall shortly after Saks was acquired by Hudson's Bay Company in Canada.

There's the revamp of Saks's physical spaces, which includes a planned overhaul of the New York flagship's beauty and accessories floors, according to WWD, as well as a new black and white color scheme that will be seen on awnings, uniforms and packaging.

But perhaps most interesting to Saks customers is the changeup of Saks's designer offerings. Marigay, who is credited with establishing Harrods as a destination for emerging talent and innovative fashion, said earlier this year that she wanted to bring more buzzy up-and-coming designers and exclusive merchandise to Saks. And now that the fall orders are in, we know whom she had her eye on: Marco de Vincenzo, an emerging talent in Italy who recently nabbed an investment from LVMH; Alexander Wang, Balmain and Balenciaga -- the last of whom the retailer had "taken a break" from for a few seasons. Runway styles (as opposed to more commercial pieces) from Chanel, Prada, Gucci, Celine, Saint Laurent and Azzedine Alaïa were also bought more deeply.

"Pieces that were once icing on the cake really need to be the core of the buy," Colleen Sherin, Saks's longtime fashion director, told The Wall Street Journal. "We need more wow."

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Whatever changes McKee has implemented so far seem to be working. Hudson's Bay reported Thursday a 3.1 percent rise in Saks's same-store sales.

New graphic branding and more buzzy labels could bring much-needed excitement and newness to the retailer, though it could also encroach on Barneys territory, particularly with the inclusion of more risk-taking designers. That said, the rebranding appears to be more nostalgic than young -- the WSJ says McKee is looking to the "glamour of the '50s, '60s and '70s" -- and thus it sounds like Saks isn't trying to become something it's not. Which is good news for its loyal customers.