PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh-based designer Kiya Tomlin was slated to make her Macy’s debut last spring with a limited-edition clothing line at select local stores. COVID-19 had different plans.
“It was a spring collection, and by the time Macy’s opened back up it would have been like August, which I thought was too late for this collection,” Tomlin said.
She decided it was worth the wait to get the timing and an in-person shopping experience just right.
Now her ready-to-wear capsule collection of eight women’s wear pieces will launch Saturday (April 10) exclusively at the Macy’s Ross Park Mall store. The public can get a sneak peek at 8 p.m. Thursday during a virtual trunk show at kiyatomlin.us.
The collection will not be for sale online or in Tomlin’s flagship store and studio in Etna.
The chance to sell clothes in a Macy’s store is “super cool,” said the designer, who’s married to Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin.
“I grew up on (shopping at) Macy’s,” she said.
It’s not often that Macy’s taps a local designer to create an exclusive collection for one of its stores.
The inspiration for the collaboration came about after one of the Steelers Style runway shows, an annual fundraiser that features Steelers and their significant others modeling clothes by Tomlin and other retailers, including Macy’s. In the audience was Macy’s district vice president, Tom Wallace, and his wife.
“His wife really liked the collection and said to her husband, ‘Hey, does Macy’s sell this?’ Why doesn’t Macy’s sell this?’” Tomlin said. “He said, ‘Let’s see what we can do.’”
The designer’s specialty is making clothes that are both chic and comfortable. Pieces are made with super-soft bamboo fabrics, and their draping make them flattering for a range of body types. Plus, they can be dressed up or down, depending upon how they’re accessorized.
Macy’s said this versatility is what made Tomlin’s designs a good fit for the retailer.
“Kiya is passionate about designing fashion that helps women feel confident and beautiful – that’s something that resonates with all our customers,” a Macy’s spokesperson told the Post-Gazette in an email. “It is also made right here in Pittsburgh.”
Bringing the collection to life took some creativity. The number of pieces and how they would be tagged and displayed were all logistics that had to be figured out, Tomlin said.
Because it’s an exclusive collection with a limited run, Macy’s settled on one store. Ross Park Mall was picked because the retailer thought the clothes would resonate with shoppers there.
The collection is steeped in neutrals and includes a skirt, pants, duster, dress and four styles of tops. Prices range from $95 to $155.
“They told me to design for the Macy’s customer, so that’s what I did,” Tomlin said. “All the pieces are meant to mix and match.”
She’s looking forward to helping shoppers who register for the launch day events find the perfect pieces for their wardrobes. That’s another reason she wanted to wait to launch the collection until now.
“Last summer, virtual (events) were still so new, and I didn’t know how people would respond to it,” she said.
The designer is hopeful that this collection could open doors for other collaborations with the Ross Park Mall store — or other Macy’s locations.
“I like doing these little capsule, pop-up collections,” she said. “I think this is a novel and fresh way to design.”©2021 PG Publishing Co. Visit at post-gazette.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.