CFDA and Cadillac Unveil "Retail Lab" Project

Courtesy of Instagram/CDFA

The new program helps designers navigate the ever-changing retail landscape with mentorship and a chance at their very own pop-up store.

The CFDA and Cadillac have joined forces for a new project called Retail Lab, which will provide resources to up-and-coming designers who have never had their own store. Perks include a retail mentorship from industry experts and a temporary pop-up space, which will allow them to test the waters and interact directly with customers.

Designers will be selected by a panel of advisors from across the industry, including Diane Von Furstenberg, Simon Doonan and Alice + Olivia's Stacey Bendet, who have also created the program curriculum and will provide guidance throughout. 

Each of the six winners from the 2016/2017 pool will host a three-month shop on the ground floor of Cadillac's New York headquarters on a rotating basis. Kicking off the pop-up is six-year-old label Timo Weiland. The brand, helmed by Tim Weiland, Donna Kang and Alan Eckstein, was pre-selected after having graduated from the CFDA's 2014 Incubator program. Future winners will be selected following a vigorous application process, which closes in May.

In addition to covering the cost of the space, Cadillac will grant winners $75,000 to put toward excess costs such as wholesale buys, sales support and marketing. However, winners will have complete autonomy with regards to design and execution of the space.

Says Steve Kolb, CFDA president and CEO, "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."

Like Lexus and Mercedes-Benz before it, Cadillac is investing heavily in its relationship with the fashion industry; the company is also one of the sponsors of New York Fashion Week: Men's.