Le Boutique Targét: No Longer Cool? Also, Prep-Friendly Flash Sales This Week

Hello-Hello, welcome to a Wednesday here at The Prepatorium.  Is everyone melting all aglow in the beastly warm temps?

Via BrandChannel.com

We begin with a question raised in today’s Journal; the paper asks if the store has become “More Target Than Tar-zhay?

A series of recent stumbles at Target Corp. has some retail experts questioning whether the cheap-chic discounter is losing its cachet.

The chain that made it trendy to shop for low-priced designer clothing and mod lamps while picking up detergent and toothpaste has been struggling to gain back its pre-recession sales strength.”

The story goes on to detail struggles the retailer is having getting customers to buy clothing and home items, two categories that not only provide higher profits, they helped set Le Boutique Targét apart from Walmart and other discount stores.   More from Ann Zimmerman’s story:

Some of Target’s struggles may also owe to the changing competitive landscape. Kohl’s Corp. and J.C. Penney Co. in recent years have taken a page from the Target playbook, adding low-price designer clothes from Vera Wang, Ralph Lauren and others.

We chat about Target with some frequency in this space, and have been vocal about quality concerns related to the company’s designer collaborations. We have also said the retailer still doesn’t seem to have recovered from Isaac Mizrahi’s departure, he had a very deft design sense that translated well for Target’s demographic. To be sure, there are still fun, fashionable items, like the Merona Rain Boots shown below.


But the boots are not an original design, to say they are “derivative” of popular classics would be an understatement. There’s no question the collaborations have been very interesting to watch, but when it comes to the bread-and-butter styles the retailer needs to offer every day, the confident, whimsical touch seems to have disappeared. Back to the article:

“In the past year, middle and upper-end retailers bounced back while Target lagged behind. “Macy’s is winning in apparel and Bed Bath & Beyond has picked up a lot of market share,” said Ms. Shapira. Home furnishings are “doing very poorly at Target. In a world that no longer has Linens ‘N Things, you would think Target would have picked up some market share.” (Linens ‘N Things closed its stores in 2008 but exists online.)”

This makes us wonder, are you still popping in to shop at Target? Have you decreased your visits, perhaps transferred spending to other stores? Or is everything much the same?


We have a few more retail-related tidbits, beginning with tough news for Talbots, the company’s stock was down yesterday by 40%. Women’s Wear Daily has more:

“…the company said sales and traffic have continued to “trend negative” so far in the second quarter, when it expects continuing high levels of promotion and markdown activity.”

“Increased promotional activity” is marketing speak for price cuts, while that can mean great savings for those looking for bargains at the struggling retailer, long-term it doesn’t bode well for the brand. This is how the Talbots’ home page looks today, obviously a promotion is underway:


If you visit Talbots’ Facebook page you will see a broad range of customer comments on the ‘wall,’ many of them referencing quality concerns as well as design and/or style issues. Recognizing that human nature dictates negative comments will outweigh the positive, the Facebook wall still presents a capsule look at a troubled brand, we hope Talbots is able to turn things around.

Our other ‘shopping business’ headline involves Lilly Pulitzer’s new owner, Oxford Industries, that company also reported financial results this week. Those numbers were very good, exceeding already-positive expectations. Much of the increase came from solid sales at Tommy Bahama (also owned by Oxford), but Lilly Pulitzer contributed to the growth as well, here is more from WWD:

The company credited the sales growth to trendy spring and summer product, as well as to a burgeoning effort to expand the brand’s consumer base through digital and social media efforts.

Speaking of Lilly, many fans are headed to the Warehouse Sale that starts tomorrow in Pennsylvania; if not able to make that event, online discounter RueLaLa is doing another Lilly flash sale beginning at 11am (EDT) on Friday.


For those not familiar with RueLaLa, the firm offers online-only sales; the invitation only (cough-cough) events run for a limited time, usually three days. A word of caution however, popular pieces can be gone within 2 -3 minutes once a sale opens.  (If in need of an invitation, just click here.)

There are actually several more prep-friendly events this week at RueLaLa, including a Sperry sale that starts at 11am tomorrow (Thursday, 6/9), as well as a sale of Bill’s Khakis and Atlantis WeatherGear.

Via RueLaLa

The Consort has a keen interest in the Bill’s sale, we’re guessing he will be firmly planted in front of his desktop at 11am tomorrow,  that’s when the sale gets underway.  In addition to the Lilly sale Friday, there is also a sale on Preppy Plates.  Because this could be confusing, we’ll recap the RueLaLa sales:

  • Thursday sales: Sperry Top-siders, Bill’s Khakis, Atlantis WeatherGear
  • Friday sales: Lilly Pulitzer, St. John swimwear and Preppy Plates


A quick note about a new line of ties and scarves from a company called Figs. We mention them not only because they make handcrafted goods of very high quality right here in the USA…


We also mention them because of their philanthropic policies: for every tie or scarf sold a uniform is donated to a schoolchild in Kenya or Tanzania.  From a post in Valet:

“The brand’s founder, Heather Hasson, is an avid traveler and was in Africa a few years ago when she learned that many kids there weren’t able to attend school simply due to a lack of funds needed to purchase a requisite uniform.”

We first learned about the brand over at our friend Madeleine’s blog, Ms. Hasson is her cousin.  Click here to read more at Madeleine’s blog or here to see the Valet post in its entirety.


For those seeking a little something for Father’s Day, we offer two random ideas, the first we fell upon while searching for something else entirely at Jack Spade.

The company offers several accessories with a nautical touch, including a business card holder and passport case in the firm’s embossed anchor pattern.

The second idea is one that The Consort and I love, Baseball Cufflinks created from an official MLB baseball that was used in an actual major league game.

J. Peterman

We found them at J. Peterman, at $150 they are not inexpensive, but they do look nifty.

Goodbye until next time!


Filed under Collaborations, Lilly Pulitzer Paper & Gifts, nautical, preppy, Preppy clothing & brands, Preppy Fashion

21 responses to “Le Boutique Targét: No Longer Cool? Also, Prep-Friendly Flash Sales This Week

  1. I know that I often find the items at Talbots to be of the “close… but not quite” variety. For instance, the skirts feature a drop pleat that highlights my stomach chub (not cute). If the pleat started at the waist, they’d be perfect. Instead, there’s a two or three inch drop. I don’t buy any of those skirts. Things like that, where it’s like the design is so close but just… Not quite it.

    I’ve been finding several Talbots items at my local Marshalls, where, for instance, I got a navy blue embroidered pencil skirt for $13.50 instead of $150.

  2. Lovely post Princess! I’m shopping around for B’s 30th birthday and those cufflinks are mighty nice….

  3. I hold Target in the same esteem I’ve held it my entire life: it’s the store where I bought Ellen Raskin’s The Westing Game (in Knoxville, TN, when I was about 8). Valuable junque. It looks a little nicer in 2011 than it did one zillion years ago.

    My husband quite likes Bills. The pants are sturdy.

    Love the necktie/uniform concept. For some reason, it pleases me more than the Toms shoes plan. Why buy a $50 pair of crummy shoes (I hate them) under the guise of helping those in need with the freebie pair of shoes someone receives when one could just donate $50 instead? Suspect the Toms are about $5/pair wholesale. A luxurious tie, however, isn’t pretending to be something it’s not–it’s a frippery. You know that when purchasing it. So, the donation that comes with it is somehow nicer. And, of course one could still just donate the money straight for uniforms. I am hypocritical in my approve/disapproves.

  4. Princess, I so enjoy popping in for a catch up on your sweet blog space. Have a wonderful Wednesday.

  5. interesting about Target. i have not been very impressed with their designer collaborations, i don’t believe i’ve purchased one single item. i would have probably liked some of the Tucker for Target things, but my Target never got any inventory.

    you are so on point about mizrahi leaving target being quite a downfall for the clothing side of things. i really only buy groceries and the occasional cheap top.

  6. Target will always be cool to me!

  7. Kitty

    I do not shop at Target much anymore… they still sell items comparable to Walmat / K-mart but charge mall prices. No thank-you. Target is waaaaaay over-rated. The only things I buy there are cleaning products and sundries. The occasional book, but they have even stopped discounting a lot of the books. Lame.

  8. Interesting about Target. I personally shop there for household goods, cleaning supplies, paper goods..am not really going there for clothes or house decor however will occasionally go through those aisles though rarely buy anything, so have never been a huge Target customer for that segment of what they do. That said, I think the old adage “stick to what you do well’ might apply..they seem to have their fingers in too many cookie jars right now and its overkill. Give it a rest and go back to your roots, Target!
    Not surprised that Lilly Pulitzer is doing well, too bad for Talbots though think they have been in trouble for a while. Hopefully they can bounce back. Love those Jack Spade small leather goods..great looking! And boy do I wish I was going to that warehouse sale….it just creates auciton fever being in a warehouse full of beautiful things! How fun for those that get to go…great and informative post as always!

  9. Amy

    I have actually decreased my shopping at Target. Their home goods are really expensive in comparison to World Market or IKEA. There isn’t much I go there for anymore.

    I love those cufflinks!! I just wish they had them in Dodgers colors because I would totally get them for the boyfriend.

  10. Au contraire … I think that Isaac stayed too long. Target is in a bit of a pickle. If the economy (stock market, unemployment, Europe sort of collapsing small beleaguered country by country) does poorly, its core customer is back to Walmart. As soon as there was a glimmer of a recovery or at least stabilization, the customer that could returned to Target and actually more to Macy’s. It’s a far cry from the Phillipe Starck home collections to clothing by designers that in the Isaac bad era, was similar to the H&M collaboration thesis – promotion and even red carpet parties for as many stars as they can gather. The truth is that H&M did especially poorly with the Lanvin collection and the clothing collaborations are not at a reasonably acceptable enough level to transition into a fashion customers wardrobe. However, the functional basics at Target and H&M are the money, what moves by the ton. H&M and Target can get a lower price for good quality basics than Macy’s and can thrive. The low levels of fashion, fast fashion and stores like the Gap and especially Todd Oldham’s leftover fingerprints at Old Navy (Todd is suing Old Navy, totally adore Todd and sold his spendy collection many years ago), are doing poorly, closing stores and directionless. Sad that the Gap big fat awfulness was blamed on Patrick Robinson. The silly management that is without a merchandising sensibility ruled on his efforts by crowdsourcing.

    There used to be a thrill for a fashion person to pick up a 12.00 camisole maybe lace trimmed at Target and find things that were wonderful. The collaborations perhaps cannot work as well because it’s a limited production run and to keep the cost down, fabrics and workmanship suffer.

  11. I don’t know much about the clothing there but I bought some wide-leg loungewear by Gillian ( I think) and they are the most comfy ever. If they weren’t see through, I’d wear them outside, still from what I remember, I’m really fond of Target compared to the other shops.

  12. I do not shop at Target as much. I agree some of their clothing is not as appealing as it use to be, I really hope that Talbots rebounds, especially since JCrew (at one time my all time favorite store) has changed its style so much! Talbots is one of the few nationwide stores that keep preppy alive & affordable!

  13. Intriguing point about Target . . . I can’t tell you whether it’s my conscious decision to buy less but better, or my disappointments over the designer collaborations, but I’ve definitely shopped the clothes & home decor sections less at Target over the past 2 years. I’m still with them for the baby & household drudgery items, but my spending there has gone down.

    J’adore those baseball cufflinks & am adding them to my too-long list of gift ideas for Father’s Day. Excellent find, as always!

  14. I still shop at Target for groceries, housewares, etc., but have never bought clothes there.

    I have been very disappointed with Talbot’s for the past few years. I like the old Talbot’s. I like to wear 100% cotton, 100% linen and 100% wool…no stretch. I would be willing to pay a little bit more for all natural fibers. I wonder how they would do if they went back to their roots.

  15. Preppy 101

    I’ll admit that when we were setting up daughter in her first big girl apartment after grad from college in 2006, we found precious things at Target! But when I look now for the same type of thing, no luck. Sooooo – now I have my answer! I still find the occasional cute top there, but that’s about it. I never really bought their clothes. I was very disappointed in the Calypso items. I did find one really cute top for my daughter. But the dresses were a cheap cotton version . . . Talbot’s hasn’t won me back yet, and I now hesitate. I will be watching RLL Thursday and Friday! :-) Thanks for this post Miss Princess. XOXO

  16. Jen

    I am a huge proponent of Target. Granted, I’m not one to be buying the “designer” collaboration wear. I get my fill of the cheap and cheerful cable knit sweaters and t-shirts. Plus, it can’t be beat for adorable children’s clothes. Even though I don’t have my own little munchkin I buy for others and love it. Really, where else can you pick up a pair of Bermuda shorts for under $25 that are actually wearable while getting your prescription for acid reflux filled, a box of Cheerios, and a Sham Wow knockoff? It is everything that is right with capitalism and the American way. (Okay, that was a bit overboard but I’m currently in London and staying at a French hotel. Customer service is low and outrageous prices are high.)

  17. Target can be a hit or miss for me. Sometimes I will glance at the clothes, but I am with commenter TammyB, if the fabric isn’t 100% cotton, linen, wool, silk, it will not be in my closet. My dry cleaning bill might be high, but my clothes last forever. I usually can find something I like at Talbots. I think Talbots just need to remember that classic will always win over fads. Do not forget your original base!!

    I will have to give Figs a look! I am loving the reversible bow ties.

  18. Princess Freckles

    Those cufflinks are so cool! My husband would love love love them! I’m going to have to remember those come our anniversary!

    To answer you question regarding Target, I still shop there for cosmetics, cotton balls, gretting cards, ect. but not for clothing. I stopped buying clothes there a few years ago, and I feel the quality is awful. I’d rather just not have anything new at all, and wait to purchase a better quality piece later down the road. I did however purchase a lamp there over Memorial Day weekend. I wanted a lamp I could fill with sand. Most of the other home decor is cute, but not really worth it when I can get better quality at HomeGoods.

  19. Little Red

    I don’t shop at Target as much any more mostly due to curtailing my spending. I did buy quite a bit of their merchandise from the collaboration with Liberty of London. I will be curious about the Missoni merchandise.

    I don’t like Talbot’s much anymore. I’m like TammyB, natural fibers and in bright colors. While the clothes needed to become a little less boxy, in my opinion, they didn’t need to make too many other changes. Also, I think they expanded too much. There’s now a Talbot’s store in every mall it seems. The quality of the merchandise has definitely suffered as well. I have a wool crepe vest that I bought in the mid-90s that I still wear every winter and it still looks great. I’m sure I couldn’t say that about the stuff they sell today.

  20. interesting… i’ve not bought anything clothing-wise at target in a while. the big t is still my favorite store- giant fountain diet cokes while strolling the aisles for ages plus we just got grocery items here this week! but you’re right now that i think about it…the clothing collections have been a miss in my book. no isaac has been a loss. i know there was a popular designer last summer- oh i forget the name- i believe out of london- very boho chic. but i thought the fabric qualities were terrible. tons of rayon. ick. here’s hoping they make some improvements.

  21. I must say I am not surprised at the landslide into the red at Talbots. 1st, they went from a “We Stand Behind Our Brand–Return Anything, Anytime” to a 90 day return policy. Then in the Sale/Outlet area, they began a Final Sale policy. I shop online because the store is too far away and I’m physically challenged so if it doesn’t fit or it’s “not As Photographed” I’m stuck w/it. You could’t return shoes! Then they brought in Trudy (the Director).
    So she must have fired the Creative Director because suddenly there’s copy on light backgrounds in white type.
    Then they spent huge bucks on Linda Evangilista and Julianne Moore as cover material and for models.
    Who can relate to that? Now every Dept. Store on the planet is having huge markdowns and getting rid of inventory so what do they do? Issue a catalog that is almost 75% tan & black clothing at full price with some slept in silks at the back finally using some color:
    Coral! Now that the HRH the Preppy Princess has introduced me to bodenusa which I adore, and Rue La La where I just made a purchase and HauteLook:
    I cut my Talbots card in half! I was a Black Card holder and since I was 12, Talbots was in my life. I spent $1000s there but they closed the showroom and the operators haven’t even seen half of the merchandise do they can’t answer any ????. I am done.

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