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New York firmly believes that you can never have enough options. Picking out the latest from both high-end and contemporary fashion brands can be done all at once at world-class department stores or the multitude of specialty boutiques that curate these designer collections. So yes, you can buy Helmut Lang or Rag + Bone pretty much anywhere these days. But what you won't find just anywhere is the exclusives.
Let's hammer down a definition: What exactly is an exclusive? First off, the term refers to an item's availability at a specific retailer, and not necessarily its quantity—though it could always be a limited edition. But from there, what's offered can vary widely. In some cases, a new brand may pair with a boutique because "they're small and they want to get some exposure," said Odin co-owner Eddy Chai. "Sometimes, they just want to work with a particular store."
So while it's true that you'll only find a particular exclusive at a particular store, exclusives themselves are abound. And if they're available at both department stores and specialty boutiques, what really makes exclusives worthwhile to the customer?
Barneys New York Fashion Director Tomoko Ogura explains that a big part of the draw for everyone is discovering new designers. "It's part of our DNA—finding the new, emerging and special and introducing them exclusively. She mentioned Moreau handbags, Troy Surratt beauty products, and Greg Lauren perfumes as just a few of the exclusives the department store debuted this year.
Makeup artist Troy Surratt and his exclusive cosmetics collection for Barneys; Image via
Other times, exclusives are a variation on a designer's existing creation. "An exclusive can be a different color than something that's in the line," said Heidi Hoelzer, Scoop NYC's vice president of women's buying. Or "a designer might offer something in their line that's short-sleeved, and our history shows us that our customer doesn't love short sleeves—she would rather have something that's either sleeveless or long-sleeved. We can alter that … and that's an exclusive."
In Scoop's case, they're looking to make sure that their loyal customers are getting what they want. "We create those exclusives with her in mind," said Hoelzer, using buying patterns and history to determine what the Scoop girl wants in her wardrobe.
Exclusives currently on sale at Scoop NYC include a Eugenia Kim beanie and a Veda leather jacket; Images via
"It creates something unique for visitors and shoppers to discover that might not be in the marketplace," said Chai. And with the masses out there wearing the same Urban Outfitter pants and Zara tops, we need all the differentiation that we can get.
And yet another way to do an exclusive is to create an entirely original concept between a designer and a store. "The Common Projects did really well with our exclusive," said Chai of the sneaker capsule collection that came out this fall. "That was a real collaborative effort, and that sold out fairly quickly."
What's up next with exclusives? More of them, for sure. "I think we did a bigger portion [of exclusives] this past fall, and not for any particular reason—just because we thought it was a good time to do it and there were some exciting things and people to work with," said Chai. "But you'll see a lot more next year, in our ten-year anniversary." While he couldn't divulge any details, Chai said they're likely arriving in store at the end of this month.
The Odin store on Lafayette Street; Photo by Brian Harkin
"It's part of our program, and it's part of who we are, and that will always continue and be a part of Scoop, for sure," affirmed Hoelzer, adding, "I think they're always a favorite because of the thought that goes into them. We're really catering to what our customer comes to us for, fulfilling her needs and requests."
And for Barneys, it's the element of surprise. "They give the customer a reason to shop at Barneys," said Ogura. "They feed the customer's curiosity and keep them coming back. It's an easy way of identifying what we are enthusiastically behind."
So think of exclusives as just another choice out there for customers, and not necessarily a must-have-it-before-it's-gone purchase. Buy what works for you, and what represents your style. And if today's exclusive isn't jiving with you, just wait for tomorrow's.
· Odin Kicks Off Capsule Collection with Rag & Bone Exclusives [Racked NY]
· Curve Celebrates 15 Years with Exclusives—and a New Store! [Racked NY]