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Barneys Is Working on Some Kind of Secret Project with Jay Z

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Photo of Jay Z via Getty
Photo of Jay Z via Getty

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There are two items of Barneys news this morning: one, the retailer is officially retiring the Barneys Co-op store concept. The seven Co-ops that the chain still has open will be rebranded as smaller Barneys New York units.

And two, there are rumors the company is in secret talks with Jay Z about a future collaboration — maybe for the holiday season.

There are no details in Women's Wear Daily's Jay Z story, which means that these alleged "talks" could be about a big, themed holiday collection of the sort Barneys has recently done with Disney and Lady Gaga, or about Jay Z being in ads for the store (new term for Bey and Jay kissing: Barneys x H&M), or the talks might about nothing at all, because they might not even be happening, and this is just a rumor.

As for the end of Co-op, WWD talked to Barneys New York C.E.O. Mark Lee:

Known for its more casual mix of premium denim and contemporary brands for men and women, the Co-op concept was introduced in 1986 as a lower-priced option for younger consumers. The Co-op has since existed as freestanding stores and on the seventh and eighth floors of Barneys New York's Madison Avenue flagship. "Lower prices was the intention when the Co-op began 27 years ago," Lee noted. "The Co-op offered the spirit of Barneys style at a lower price before contemporary and secondary collections existed. With everything we're doing, it's more about the edit now. It's about how we curate these small specialty stores."

The change makes a certain kind of sense, if it is a tad depressing for an iconic department store to abandon a concept that offered lower prices — as if that's somehow illegitimate for consumers to want. Speaking of which, there's no mention in this article of the Barneys warehouse sale and how it's faring since the switch to an online-only format. Does anyone else find the site kind of clumsy and hard to navigate? And is offering final-sale items online really something consumers respond to? There are no returns if something doesn't fit. It would be interesting to know just how well (or not) the warehouse sale is doing on the Web.

— Jenna Sauers

· Barneys New York Unites Stores Under One Banner [WWD]
· Barneys New York and Jay-Z? [WWD]
· All Barneys news [Racked]