High-end clothing, accessories and housewares are all coming to Target

January 13th, 2012

An ad from one of Target’s previous designer collaborations

The fashion industry is always finding new ways to surprise, delight and confuse me (sometimes all at the same time, which might be the case today), but yesterday’s news from Women’s Wear Daily that Target, the suburban bastion of cheap leggings and toilet paper that we all know and love, would soon be moving into the high-end boutique business caught me particularly off guard. We all know Target for its now-discontinued line of Go! International collaborations with up-and-coming designers (although more collabs with established brands, like the one with Jason Wu, are forthcoming), but the megachain’s newest venture, The Shops by Target, takes the idea to the next level. Get ready for some swanky stores-within-stores.

Most of the early articles I read about this launch yesterday seemed to assume that high-end brands like Celine, Yves Saint Laurent and Balenciaga would be part of this collaboration, simply by virtue of their existence on the shelves at The Webster Miami, a luxury clothing boutique and one of the venture’s launch partners. That doesn’t seem to be the case. Instead, The Webster and other high-end retailers in a variety of product categories – Privet House housewares, Cos Bar cosmetics, Polka Dog Bakery pet stuff – will set up shop inside of Target stores for limited six-week runs, with new boutiques being introduced every two to four months.

In keeping with the business model that has made Target gazillions (that’s a business term, folks) of dollars over the past half a decade, the boutiques will offer lower-cost versions of the wares that they stock in their regular stores. It remains to be seen what that means for an operation like The Webster, whose website boasts a large selection of Lanvin, Proenza Schouler and Givenchy handbags. It seems as though the most likely solution will involve the store’s buying or creative team working with Target’s designers to come up with a line that demonstrate’s the store point of view at an attainable price, so if you were hoping for a $99 Balenciaga bag…too bad. A girl can dream, though.

Are you excited for these new collaborations? Who would you like to see debut a collection with Target?

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