Department store giant Macy’s is tapping into an underserved market: Black sororities. The company’s new Divine Nine clothing line is projected to reach $10 million in sales this year.
Many Black sorority sisters take pride in displaying their sorority colors. And the Divine Nine clothing line offers them dresses and other items featuring the color combos for the various sororities. The dresses are priced at $90.
The sororities will have at least five pieces, and women’s suits will soon debut. The collection is available online and in more than 200 of the company’s roughly 500 Macy’s locations. Macy’s also said it will donate $1 million to the education and research foundations of the sororities.
The National Pan-Hellenic Council, known as the “Divine Nine,” is an umbrella council of historically African-American fraternities and sororities. There are four major sororities: Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority and Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority.
The Macy’s line is done in partnership with clothing maker Kasper Group. The idea for the line originated from Macy’s exec WyQuasia King-Thomas, a director and buyer of day dresses. The 32-year-old Zeta said she often had struggles finding outfits for sorority functions and figured other sorority members faced the same difficulties.
“We come in a variety of shapes, sizes, curves, and I understand the challenges we face when shopping,” King-Thomas said during a video interview with Bloomberg while wearing a royal blue and white dress from the line — Zeta Phi Beta’s colors. “I know the need and the importance of this dress collection.”
Black sorority members often hold conventions and chapter events, and tend to dress in their organization’s colors.
While this is a niche market for Macy’s, it is opening a door for the retailer to connect with middle-aged women — a core demographic for Macy’s. And the sororities tend to have high memberships. Zeta Phi Beta says it has more than 125,000 members.
The move also serves another purpose. As part of its diversity efforts, Macy’s is carrying more items from Black-owned brands.
Other companies have been targeting the HBCU market as well. Ralph Lauren debuted a collection with Morehouse College and Spelman College in March.