Former supermodel Heidi Klum is going to offer her designer fashions in the oddest of places: supermarkets.
The star of Bravo's reality TV series Project Runway plans to bring her apparel line to Lidl, an upstart discount supermarket chain based in Germany that opens its first U.S. stores on June 15.
Klum, who is German, doesn't seem fazed by seeing her apparel show up in the place normally associated with stacks of peanut butter jars and or boxes of Kleenex.
“Lidl is known for making quality products at affordable prices and I’m proud to partner with them on this fashion collaboration. I had so much fun designing the pieces in this collection and can’t wait for you to see it. I hope you love it as much as I do!," Klum said in a statement.
That means buying a dress and salad dressing on the same shopping trip. Mass merchandisers like Target and Costco have long offered grocery departments in their stores. The Lidl idea flips the concept to make fashion secondary to food.
Lidl stores offer weekly promotions of non-food products, ranging from fitness gear to power tools to small kitchen appliances, like juicers and panini presses, according to Lidl U.S. spokesman Will Harwood. In the supermarket business, non-foods are known for typically offering some of the best profit margins in stores -- and unlike cucumbers, they aren't perishable except for long-term fashion whims.
"She’s an international fashion icon," Harwood said. "She's extremely passionate, creating incredible fashion that is high end, but also attainable and it worked really well with what we do. We’re very focused at delivering top quality and great prices. She integrates with that really well."
Harwood declined to say when later this year the clothing line will debut, but on Klum's personal Web site, she said that it will be available this autumn.
"The fashion collection reflects my own style and I was very happy to design it. Like me, Lidl has a very high demand for great products in good quality at a great price. Fashion should be fun and everyone should be able to afford this pleasure," she wrote on her Web site.
Offering creative items to draw shoppers into a store -- or to give those already inside something atypical to purchase -- is a wise retail strategy, according to Ivan Feinseth, chief information officer of Tigress Financial Partners. He called the Klum idea "cool." and likened it to the traffic-building Costco does with some of its unique merchandise
"Anything that will give consumers a reason to go into the store, I think is positive," he said. "It’s got to be outside something that's normal and what you expect to see.... Who says a food store has to sell food? Amazon evolved from selling books. We’re celebrating the 20th anniversary of their IPO."
Based in Neckarsulm in southern Germany, Lidl has an estimated 10,000 stores in 27 countries throughout Europe and will open its first American stores in North and South Carolina and in Virginia. The U.S. division is headquartered in Arlington County, Va., with distribution centers in Spotsylvania County, Va.; Alamance County, N.C.; and Cecil County, Md.