by Stephen Garner
CFDA Cadillac Retail Lab
Steven Kolb, Eneuri Acosta, Melody Lee, Diane Von Furstenburg, Timo Weiland, Donna Kang, Alan Eckstein

Cadillac and the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) have embarked on a new journey: The Retail Lab.

The Retail Lab, which was unveiled at Cadillac’s global headquarters in New York on Tuesday evening, is a new program designed to assist designers succeed in the retail marketplace. Its main component will be a custom retail shop located on the ground floor of Cadillac’s global headquarters at 330 Hudson Street in Manhattan.

Participating designers, who will be selected through a competitive application process, will gain valuable retail experience under the tutelage of fashion industry experts. In addition to covering costs associated with a retail space, such as real estate, display units, mannequins, signage and point of sale system, Cadillac will provide each designer with a $75,000 grant to put towards wholesale buys, sales support and marketing.

Six designers will be part of the 2016/2017 term, each opening their respective retail shop for three months while under the mentorship program. The inaugural fashion designer is Timo Weiland, whose shop will open to the public in early July. The remaining five designers will be chosen by May 6 by an advisory board consisting of experts across fashion, retail, business and technology, including Billy Reid, Derek Lam, Josh Peskowitz, Liz Rodbell, Simon Doonan, and Steven Alan.

“The CFDA is always looking for meaningful programs that help strengthen the impact of American Fashion,” said Steven Kolb, president and CEO of the CFDA. “Every designer aspires to a freestanding retail experience that allows them to tell their brand story and connect directly with consumers. Cadillac’s commitment to the industry will help the selected designers make this a reality.”

“Our ongoing partnership with the CFDA represents Cadillac’s unwavering commitment to the fashion community and its growth,” said Melody Lee, director of brand strategy and planning at Cadillac. “Retail Lab will give designers a space in the heart of Cadillac’s headquarters, along with the tools, training and inspiration to take their business to the next level.”

To apply to be a part of the 2016/2017 term of The Retail Lab, please click here.