The collection is being targeted to brides and is merchandised in a women’s shop at Lord & Taylor.

By Jean E. Palmieri

It’s no secret that the men’s neckwear business has been struggling in recent years. But Randa, the category’s largest manufacturer, is not about to roll over and play dead.

Instead, it has teamed with Paper Crown, a popular women’s collection founded by Lauren Conrad and Maura McManus, to create a line of neckwear and accessories to complement the collection’s flirty, feminine styles.

The line has launched exclusively at Lord & Taylor and in an unconventional twist, is being sold in the women’s dress department rather than in the men’s department. The men’s ties, pocket squares and jewelry are being targeted to brides to pick up for the groomsmen in their weddings.

Paper Crown, which launched in 2011, is known for its romantic dresses, feminine blouses and tailored basics, and also offers a popular collection of bridesmaids dresses.

“We know from our research that more neckwear purchases are driven by occasions,” said Heath Golden, president of Randa’s neckwear and jewelry division. “And that the woman makes a lot of the buying decisions.”

Richard Carroll, Randa’s senior vice president of marketing and creative director, added: “Doing things differently is how we’re going to survive.”

Carroll said Paper Crown has developed a loyal following with its “best in class” wedding dresses and distinct taste level. “Lauren also has a fashion degree, so it’s great to partner with her and her vision. Her girl really trusts her and this was a nice leap of faith.”

McManus said two years after launching the brand, both she and Conrad were engaged to be married but “didn’t find what we wanted in brides’ dresses,” so they decided to create a collection for that special time. “And it’s taken off like wildfire,” she said.

Now by expanding into neckwear and men’s jewelry, she and Conrad see an opportunity to further their reach in the bridal space. The line is priced in the same zone as the women’s dresses with bow ties retailing for $55, long ties at $78, lapel pins for $32 and a dress set of jewelry pieces for $115.

“This is creating a path of least resistance for the bride,” Carroll said. “It’s a chance for her to check another box. Groomsmen? Done.”

McManus admitted that there was some hesitancy in the beginning since “this is not the typical extension that people are comfortable with, but Randa knew that in these times, you have to be creative and break the barriers.”

She said the line will be offered on the Paper Crown web as well in the future.

Since debuting at Lord & Taylor a couple of weeks ago, the line has performed well, Goldin said. “We’re happy with the results. It looks fantastic and is about the experience. It’s unexpected and solves a problem.”

So is men’s formalwear the next step for the Paper Crown? McManus didn’t rule it out. “We would love it. From a brand point of view, we don’t want to be everything for everybody, but our customers are asking for it and it seems like a very natural progression.”