Target Launches Collection at Barneys
By Tom Ryan
In a move perplexing fashion insiders, Target is introducing a line of eco-friendly clothes by American designer Rogan Gregory at Barneys. It’s believed to be the first time a luxury American retailer has carried a collection from a discount chain.
The line is the latest of the Go International collection — a rotating line of clothes developed by young up-and-coming designers sold at budget prices at Target for a limited time. Rogan for Target was launched at Barneys’ Madison Avenue flagship from May 9 to May 11, and will again be sold at Barneys’ Los Angeles store from May 16 to 18. After that, shoppers will have to wait for “Rogan for Target” to roll out at Target stores nationwide on May 18.
Barneys sells designer Mr. Gregory’s primary line, which features trousers for $230, dresses for $320 and anoraks for $450. Rogan for Target will be priced between $15 and $45.
Since both retailers aren’t discussing the deal, speculation has been rampant on the reasons behind it. Some believe it’s just a clever marketing ploy.
“Clearly what Target is doing with Barneys is all about marketing and branding,” Wendy Liebman, president of WSL Strategic Retail, told Women’s Wear Daily. “To have that opportunity to present the line there for a few minutes…In terms of the New York market, there’s the prestige and it’s a good marketing tool. For Barneys, this is a way to surprise people. There’s all this fast fashion going on; Barneys is saying, ‘We can take a little poke at [ourselves] and have fun with it. We can give our Barneys shoppers a chance to get a good value for a few days.’ It will create a little bit of anarchy and a little bit of buzz.”
For Target, the move may also be a step to rebuild its apparel business since it will lose its best-known designer line, Isaac Mizrahi, at the end of the year. For Barneys, partnering with the upscale discounter may convince more middle-to-upper consumers to trek to Barneys instead of Bloomingdale’s or Nordstrom the next time they trade up.
Still, fashion pundits remain befuddled. In particular, many believe having one designer selling at two drastically different price points in the same store only confuses customers.
“It’s one thing to have Karl Lagerfeld do an H&M line. It’s exciting, it’s news and everyone understands what that means,” Michael Lichtenstein, owner and founder of Group L Consulting, told WWD. “This doesn’t tell anybody what’s happening and why it’s happening. It’s merely doing something to be different than thinking about what the [Barneys] customer wants. I don’t think a Barneys customer wants a Target product.”
“I think it’s really odd,” concurs Erin Armendinger, managing director of the Jay Baker Retailing Initiative at the Wharton School. “I’m not sure what everybody’s getting from this…I’m not sure a Barneys customer is going to be a Target customer. It is Target, but at the end of the day, it still is Target. You have to be careful with these partnerships and who’s casting what on whom.”
Discussion Questions: What do you think of Target’s move to launch a collection at Barneys? Will Target benefit from Barneys’ cachet? What will this do for Barneys?
- Barneys Loves Target: Retailing’s Odd Couple Takes Marketing Leap – Women’s Wear Daily
- Barneys to sell line of Target merchandise – Reuters