Nordstrom and Noah Are Dismantling Retail's Power Imbalance

Nordstrom and Noah Are Dismantling Retail's Power Imbalance

by Aaron Royce

Despite the ongoing uncertainty looming among department stores amid the pandemic, Nordstrom is moving forward with its ongoing New Concepts project, which acts as a place for discovery for independent menswear designers.

Noah is the 11th brand to partner with the Seattle-based retailer, following previous collaborations with the likes of Thom Browne and Scott Sternberg's Entireworld. The menswear label's founder Brendon Babenzien and Nordstom's SVP of Designer and New Concepts, Sam Lobban, hope to increase Noah's brand presence on a national level through the partnership — particularly its values of environmental and social awareness.

The collaboration comes from Babenzien and Lobban's goal to revolutionize fashion's power imbalance with fun and creativity. Unlike previous New Concepts launches, Noah's capsule drop won't take place inside Nordstrom stores alone. (Though several retail locations will have IRL products.) As such, the partnership is a fitting example of how both large and small businesses can adapt during COVID-19.

"The world can't afford business as usual anymore," Babenzien said in a statement. "The old ideas of big business and small business and the imbalance of power within the fashion industry needs to be a thing of the past. Our industry was created by people with vision and passion and a lust for life and fun. But over time business has slowly eroded the creative position. Sam's work within Nordstrom is a great example of how the industry is evolving, understanding that the bottom line can be improved by having fun and working on interesting partnerships where everyone benefits."

The Concept 011: Noah capsule sees the brand's staples paired alongside exclusive pieces that are simultaneously classic, preppy and punky. Ranging from $28 to $568, the collection embodies Babenzien's merging of skate, music and surf cultures with classic menswear tropes. Longtime fans and new customers can shop Noah's cult-favorite Volley shorts, Core Logo polos and graphic tees, while discovering its new collaborations with Birdwell, Vuarnet and Island Slipper — as well as a range of Nordstrom-only paisley pieces.

"Noah felt like an important partner to use the New Concepts platform as a way to amplify their voice and message," Lobban said in a statement, "with everything going on in the world, that's more important than ever."

Concept 011: Noah is available now at Nordstrom. See more photos from the campaign, below.

Photos courtesy of Nordstrom