Changes are afoot at Lands' End, the brand that has been reassuringly reliable in its delivery of wardrobe staples since 1963. "Something new is on the horizon," teased the website for quite some time. And something new has arrived: Today marks the launch of Canvas by Lands' End, a new designer collection under the direction of the retailer's newly instated CEO Federica Marchionni, who was previously at Dolce & Gabbana for 14 years (and president of Dolce & Gabbana U.S. for four of them).
Her first order of business: Resurrect the once popular Canvas range, the brand's diffusion line from seven years ago that catered toward a younger crowd. This time around though, her goal was to attain the same kind of freshness that Canvas brought but with a greater push for contemporary designs, with slimmer-fit silhouettes and trendier styles that would attract an untapped market—the style-savvy set.
"Everyone asked me to bring back the Canvas line and I saw it as an opportunity for a design-focused aesthetic and clothing with a different fit," Marchionni says. In fact, fit is one of the elements that she learned from her years of experience at the luxury Italian house Dolce & Gabbana, which explains her strong emphasis on a slimmer silhouette that's markedly different from the core Lands' End line.
"The waist is slimmer, the armholes are higher, the fit feels more modern, more international," she says. "It's a fit that can compete on a global scale—in Europe, in Asia." (In numerical sizing terms, that means if you're a size 4 in Lands' End, you might be a size 6 in Canvas.)
She's positioning Lands' End to be competitive in the marketplace not just with the fit, but with fresh styles, some of which, she says, are quite unexpected for the brand, calling out the wrap jumpsuit, the bold black-and-white maxidress (pictured, at top), and the super chic swim collection. "It's much more about design and fashion and glamour," she lists, but then stops herself. "It's fashion-forward for Lands' End; it was important that we're at least in line with current fashion trends."
What that looks like is a collection that blends the traditional—like structured sheaths, classic pencil skirts, versatile day dresses— with the unexpected. There's a boyfriend shirt, an off-the-shoulder crop top, graphic pleated midiskirts, and yes, that one jumpsuit. Also among the standouts are the pieces printed with broad brushstrokes, which is meant to not-so-subtly hint at the connection between canvas and artistry. "The source of design inspiration came from the name—Canvas," Marchionni explains. "Painting played a major part with this collection, and the idea that you can personalize one's own canvas. For future seasons, we're going to continue to explore the theme, with inspiration from different kinds of art or painters in the past, the contemporary, or the future."
If you're a loyal Lands' End customer, and you're currently panicking, stop. No, this is not the end of Lands' End as we know it. Marchionni has no intention of discontinuing the core Lands' End line.
"They can co-exist, and customers can shop from both lines," she says. "The attachment to Lands' End is very strong, and we didn't want to disrupt that. We're just offering an alternative. My mission is to make design and quality more accessible to everyone."
The Canvas collection, which is available starting today at landsend.com, ranges from $55 for a tee to $325 for a parka (dresses fall in the $100 price range). Now that Canvas by Lands' End is here, Marchionni's greatest wish? "That people will become brand ambassadors themselves—that’s the best kind of advertising to me."