Target develops line just for its plus-sized ‘guests’

Discussion
Jan 23, 2015

As a number of articles point out, Target hasn’t always gotten along very well with its plus-sized female customers. Many remember a couple of years back when the retailer had to offer an apology for a garment whose color was described as "manatee gray" on the company’s site. The company has also been criticized for its lack of selection in larger sizes. Now, Target is looking to put things right with the launch of a new line, Ava & Viv, intended to meet the fashion forward needs of its plus-size customers.

"Target is synonymous with great design, and with the launch of Ava & Viv, we’re stepping up our fashion game for our plus-size guests," said Stacia Andersen, senior vice president, merchandising, apparel and accessories, Target, in a statement. "From stylish original prints to the attention to detail and fit, this line is meant to impress and we can’t wait to share it with our guests."

[Image: Target Plus-Size]

The new line, which arrives in stores in mid-February, offers items at prices ranging from $10 to $79.99. According to the retailer, the line will be updated monthly.

To build buzz, Target invited plus-sized fashion bloggers, Gabi Gregg, Chastity Garner Valentine and Nicolette Mason to preview its new line. The trio was also hired to act as models in Ava & Viv look book.

Winning Ms. Garner Valentine’s support is important. The blogger announced last August that she was boycotting Target for not including plus-sizes in its Altuzarra line.

"There’s been a lot of frustration from plus-size customers because they’ve felt kind of ignored by Target," Ms. Mason, a columnist for Marie Claire in addition to her blogging duties, told the (Minneapolis) Star Tribune. "But I know this is going to change everything for Target."

How important will the new Ava & Viv line be to Target’s efforts to move its business forward? What will the chain need to do to build on the positive first impressions it has made with the line?

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9 Comments on "Target develops line just for its plus-sized ‘guests’"


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Ryan Mathews
Guest
7 years 3 months ago

There are only two basic retail strategies: Exclusion (niche, boutique or specialty merchandising) and inclusion (mass-marketing). Target has always tried to walk a retail tightrope as a mass-niche retailer—an interesting strategy if you are selling housewares and bedding, not so much when it comes to selling clothing.

So that said, the issue is will plus-sized customers flock to Target in the spirit of commercial forgiveness? Clearly some will but whether or not “some” proves “enough” remains to be seen.

If Target wants to do it right, “plus-sized” (where do we get these labels?) folk should be featured in ads and in-store merchandising materials. The message has to be, “We want you,” not, “We want your money.”

Paula Rosenblum
Guest
7 years 3 months ago

Well, Target’s not alone. Almost all retailers generally ignore plus-sized women. The reason why is beyond me, but they do.

I think its success will depend on the look. If it’s styled as stretch-waist polyester slacks with big lion print (festooned with rhinestones) blouses, it’ll be a failure. If it’s styled in a fresh way, it’ll succeed.

Simple as that.

Camille P. Schuster, Ph.D.
Guest
7 years 3 months ago

Many women already shopping at Target fit in the plus-sized category. They just do not purchase clothes for themselves at Target. For the new line to work, it needs to be fashionable, good quality and a reasonable price. Success will depend upon how well it hits that mark with consumers. If consumers do not like the line of clothes, especially if they promote it, it will do more damage to their image.

Carol Spieckerman
Guest
Carol Spieckerman
7 years 3 months ago

Plus-sizes can be a tough value proposition. Simply stated, they require more fabric, new patterns, etc. Yet customers expect prices to fall in line with smaller sizes. By creating a dedicated line, Target can work out the economics as a separate proposition while messaging that it is courting and catering to this under-served customer. Smart!

Cathy Hotka
Guest
7 years 3 months ago

America is plus-sized! And under-served, with too many elastic-waisted polyester pants. If Target can put together a very stylish line that will appeal to younger plus-sized customers, it will score big and re-establish its style cred. I’m looking forward to the day when Target downsizes its grocery offerings and re-emphasizes cheap chic.

Ed Rosenbaum
Guest
7 years 3 months ago

Target might be on to something with this new line. Time will tell how the buying public takes to it. With their current customer base and savvy advertising this could be a winner for them. They sure could use one.

Li McClelland
Guest
Li McClelland
7 years 3 months ago

Carol pointed out several key things in her comment today and I agree. But I also think that the entire shopping atmosphere or ambiance and support system is also key for many plus-size buyers, whether it’s online or in a shop more specifically devoted and staffed to this market. Lane Bryant, while not always at the forefront of fashion, has certainly understood this for a long time. I am not sure that just because Target puts some fashionable plus sized clothing on its self-service racks that they’re going to meet the other needs and expectations of larger sized women who are shopping for clothes.

Marge Laney
Guest
7 years 3 months ago

I agree with Paula 100%. And I know this is a leap, but how about some comfortable fitting rooms where these guests can make their buying decisions more enjoyable. Trust me, it would be worth the investment.

David Livingston
Guest
7 years 3 months ago

I give Target credit for not giving up. It’s so easy to offend when trying to market to a group that is often ridiculed. I recall the Manatee Grey incident. For 99 percent of us it’s just another color. but then someone was offended. What keeps retailers from pushing plus sizes is that no matter what they do, someone will go to the limits of their imagination to claim to be offended. The more successful this campaign is, the more likely there will be some parody on TV poking fun. Target shouldn’t walk on egg shells worrying about offending someone. It’s going to happen. I hope this time they have the courage to forge on.

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