In the name of shopping as theater, and in the tradition of merchant princes such as the late Bloomingdale’s CEO Marvin Traub, who engineered extravagant, but reportedly, money-losing country promotions –and with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has put a crimp in brick and mortar retailers as understudy – Fred Segal is going on with the show.

Part Home Shopping Network spiel, part brand building exercise, with the fairy dust of influencers such as Garth Brooks, Alicia Keys, Dolly Parton, Julie Andrews, Tim Tebow, Kristin Cavallari, Tim McGraw, Jenna Dewan and Trisha Yearwood, among others, sprinkled on for good measure, the Los Angeles-based experiential retailer, announced is launching a shopping channel, Fred Segal LIVE, presented by Mastercard
on talkshoplive, Jeff Lotman, CEO and owner of Fred Segal, told Forbes exclusively.

The eight-week shopping experience premieres on Nov. 23 at 7 p.m., and will livestream on seven consecutive Mondays after that. Fred Segal claims talkshoplive is the first live video streaming, shareable, embeddable commerce platform that allows consumers to experience brands live.

Themed around the power of diversity, the shows will feature collaborations with Black-owned, women-owned, minority-owned and small businesses, while offering exclusive promotions for viewers and an easy online checkout experience with Click to Pay. 

Lotman said a livestream show is in keeping with the retailer’s DNA. “Fred Segal will celebrate its 60th anniversary. It’s always been a discovery brand. We do a ton of activations, always showcasing new things. Last year, we did 150 events in the store.”

When the coronavirus pandemic arrived in the U.S., that all came to a screeching halt, and Lotman searched for ways to “connect with the customer that’s not come coming to the store and showcase brands that want to be in the store.

“I’d been watching what Shopbop has been doing in China for years and have been looking for the right technology,” Lotman said. “I started with using Zoom and it was a big mistake. When you do that you have to open a window to your chat, and when you do that you lose your audience.”

Each week, Fred Segal LIVE will feature guest hosts showcasing a curation of brands and will offer incentives to purchase the products, which will be featured for 72 hours exclusively through talkshoplive. Participating brands include Shaya Pets by Davina Farahi, Island Tribe by Angeline Hayling, and Stuzo Clothing by Stoney Michelli Love, among others. Fashion, home, beauty and wellness are among the key categories to be featured on the platform, with an emphasis on helping emerging brands find new audiences.

“The beauty of live shopping is that it allows us to connect with customers wherever they are,” Lotman said. “They can ask questions and we can respond back to them. We can also do some market research. For example, we could say, ‘We’re thinking of making this product in a different color, would ever buy it?’

“This year created many challenges and opportunities for retailers across the country and pushed us to explore a new approach to the way we are interacting with our customer,” Lotman added. “Fred Segal LIVE presented by Mastercard will provide a one-of-a-kind shopping experience for our customers, giving us an opportunity to directly interact with them wherever they are, in the safety of their homes, in real time and in a way we never have digitally,” Lottman said. “Fred Segal LIVE will also offer shoppers exclusive promotions and access to new and upcoming designers to take advantage of the lead into the holiday season. This is what the future of shopping looks like.”

Lotman said that while talkshoplive has built a reputation as a powerful direct-to-consumer platform to increase sales for talent and brands, it can become a solution for traditional brick and mortar retailers looking to increase their digital footprint.

“Fred Segal is the epitome of experiential retail and bringing their fashion experiences to talkshoplive will be game-changing,” said Bryan Moore, CEO of talkshoplive.

The inaugural Fred Segal LIVE episode will feature Serendipitous Project, female-founded sustainably minded jewelry brand that offers eco-friendly pieces and Adore Adorn, a Black-owned jewelry brand “deeply rooted in legacy, family and love.”

“By the time we get done, we’re going to be really good at this,” Lotman said. “Retail stores are always challenging, but we’re going to open a couple more.

‘I don’t want to have 100 stores,” Lotman said, revealing that units are planned for Korea and Las Vegas next year. “We’ll hopefully open one store in New York and one in Northern California, and also some in Asia.”

The benefit of Fred Segal LIVE is the cross-pollination of global brands, Lotman said. “I want to showcase Korean brands and we have people signing off from Germany and France. When we’re living in whatever the new normal is, this will elevate the experience and awareness of a brand on a global level. Where else can a brand be seen? How about in Saudi Arabia.” 

Lotman said the Fred Segal Los Angeles store will serve as the set for the shows. “Ideally we want as many people as possible to be in the store when we’re filming live,” he said. “We’ll have a host talking. The cohost is a longtime sales manager of our store and operates all our locations. We have a whole film crew in our store. It’s like TV back in the 50s It’s such a learning experience, things happen and you keep trying different things to keep your show going. It’s challenging and fun, as long as you keep the right attitude.

Fred Segal LIVE uses three cameras with video mixed in “so we can bring in brands. We had a host and model beaming in a guy from New York, and it was really cool. We said, ‘Let’s get this working and figure this out.’ There’s an electricity to being live. We have two cue cards because we can’t remember all the talking points, and occasionally the cards get out of order,” Lotman said, noting, “I already have a bloopers reel.”

Prices at Fred Segal range from We sell $15 to $5,000, “and we have a $30,000 Warhol in our store,” Lotman said. ““People are selling multi-million dollar cars now without the excitement of a live audience. The audience is completely diverse and we cater to all of them. If we can figure out how to get to the person who likes collectible watches, we can [segment]. We have a show all about pet jewelry. We’ll have trailers for the shows to show viewers what’s coming out. I think you can build online without advertising on TV. We’re working on social media and Google.

“It keeps me up at night, the excitement and opportunity of figuring this thing out and all the levers we have to pull,” Lotman said. “Mastercard is all over this thing. They want to support small businesses and want them to survive.”

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