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Kohl’s Looks to Up Its Fashion Cred With Sleek Showroom In New York’s Garment District

Kohl’s (KSS) might be a Midwestern department store known for its sensible offerings at affordable prices, but the retailer also wants to be considered cool.

The company this week unveiled a sleek new showroom in the heart of New York’s garment district at 1400 Broadway. It’s the same building that houses Kohl’s design offices, facilities the company has expanded significantly in the last few years to add more fashion to its clothes and attract top design talent.

The 4,000 square-foot showroom is aimed at showcasing new collections of its private brands—which include names like its billion-dollar Sonoma brand, Apt. 9, Vera Wang, and LC Lauren Conrad—to the press and for industry parties. At a launch party on Tuesday, items were presented in a manner reminiscent of a luxury department store like Barneys New York. The floor is of shiny white laminate cement, and the space has bright spotlights, along with big windows that let in plenty of daylight.

Kohl’s first opened its New York office nine years ago, as part of an effort to be closer to the heart of the fashion industry. Initially, it was a modest operation: 23,000 square feet in size. Now, after a couple of expansions and a move, the office comprises 100,000 square feet spread over four floors, and staff at the location oversee the design and development for 13 brands.

Kohl’s private brands are a cornerstone of its turnaround strategy, a framework it calls its “Greatness Agenda,” which is aimed at making sure the company keeps its improving momentum going and lifts annual sales by $2 billion to $21 billion by 2017. Kohl’s has now seen comparable sales growth for four quarters in a row after a five-quarter losing streak. Later this month, it will report its holiday quarter results.

 

Michelle Gass, Kohl’s chief merchandising and customer officer, last year told Fortune that some of the the company’s house brands needed a refresh. Sonoma, a denim-focused brand that Kohl’s launched in 1994, will be relaunched next month. That brand is focusing on essentials rather than trying to be too many things to too many people.