Target Goes on ‘International Flight of Fashion’
By George Anderson
Target has carved out a point of difference from other discounters and retail stores with its cheap chic line of clothes, accessories and home furnishings and it plans to continue doing that. The only difference consumers might see is that some of the designer fashions the retailer will display will be here today and gone tomorrow in Target stores.
Next Wednesday, Target will launch a line of clothing from the British designer Luella Bartley under a strategy and campaign dubbed “international flights of fashion.”
What makes this different from other designer launches is that Ms. Bartley’s trendy line of clothes will be in Target stores only through April 30. Other designers will follow suit in Target stores with a big announcement and limited engagement on store racks.
The idea, according to Reuters‘ Emily Kaiser, is to get designers in-and-out of stores quickly to generate a sense of urgency among shoppers.
Consumers, according to Merrill Lynch analyst Mark Friedman, are looking for a little excitement in fashion and not getting it at most retail stores.
In a note to investors, Mr. Friedman wrote, “Overall themes are not very new and give the customer little reason to shop this early in the season. Warmer weather in certain regions is helping but generally this is not a good sign for spring.”
According to Reuters, Target’s ad campaign for the Bartley line makes clear that it will only be available for a limited time. It comes at a time when Target’s larger rival, Wal-Mart, is looking to go more upscale with its own fashion offerings.
Target appears to be taking a page from H&M, which has carved its own cheap chic niche with an ability to get designers on store shelves more quickly than competing retailers.
So-called fast-fashion retailers, such as H&M, writes Ms. Kaiser, “have trained their customers to buy now instead of waiting for clothes to go on sale.”
Target will have an advantage with its limited time designer strategy, said Marshal Cohen, chief analyst at NPD Group, because it already has a strong reputation with fashion conscious consumers. Mr. Cohen pointed out that 54 percent of consumers who shop in mall stores for clothing also shop at discounters.
Target’s reputation in fashion means lines such as Ms. Bartley’s will be accepted as hip, even if Americans do not recognize the brand name, said Wendy Liebmann, founder and president of WSL Strategic Retail.
“It just enhances the buzz, the fact that she’s not very well known,” she said.
Moderator’s Comment: What are your thoughts on Target’s “international flights of fashion” strategy? Will apparel retailers need to adopt the fast-fashion
approach to remain competitive in the years ahead? –
George Anderson – Moderator