Target pioneered the high-low end partnership more than a decade ago, first with architect and designer Michael Graves, and later, with Isaac Mizrahi.Though first criticised a potential death-blow for the designers, the discounted products not only disappeared off shelves, but also increased publicity for Graves and Mizrahi in the high-end market.
Target has since collaborated with some of the most revered names in high fashion: Alexander McQueen, Jean Paul Gaultier, Zac Posen, among others. A deal with the Italian brand Missoni is its next step.
The difference this time around is, Target is now offering even higher-marked up items — some will be upwards of $600 — when in the past, designer-inspired products didn’t go beyond $200. (Though to be fair: most will run around $40.)
As with its other collaborations, the Missoni line will only be available for a few weeks, beginning in September. This type of campaign is brilliant because not only is Target pairing with more designers, its limited-edition philosophy establishes an aura of exclusivity.
“It’s become O.K. for the ‘Vogue customer’ to shop at Target, to brag about the fact that they saved money,” Jeffrey Buchman, a professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology, told the New York Times.
Even so, analysts have pointed out Target has lost its lead in this type of promotion, because so many low-cost retailers (Kohl’s, Walmart) began launching their own diffusion lines — and stores like H&M and TopShop are also capitalising on the concept.
“When you’re competing on price, you need something that sticks out,” Wall Street Strategies analyst Brian Sozzi told Reuters. “Generally [designer-inspired lines] add a few points to the bottom line. They are very important profit drivers in these businesses, in addition to being real ways to be different.”
Last year, clothes and accessories accounted for 20 per cent of Target’s $65.8 billion in sales, according to Reuters.