It is a simply gorgeous day here at the Prepatorium, the kind of afternoon people in The Great Midwest dream of when slogging thought the dreary days of February.
We have written at length in this space about the varying design collaborations Le Boutique Targét has done, including its most recent efforts, “The Shops at Target“. Last week yours truly took a little stroll through the local store, I thought I would share a few impressions.
The signage immediately inside the front door is large and hard to miss. Unfortunately, if a customer *does* somehow miss those entryway banners and signs, they may not know anything special is going on at the store, a different direction from recent collaborative efforts. (Think Jason Wu, Mulberry, Missoni, Thakoon, Temperley, to name a few.) In most of those partnerships it was tough to avoid displays and merchandise throughout the store; that isn’t the case with “The Shops,” at least not as experienced at our local Targét.
Did you know a huge percentage of customers always turn to their right upon entering a retail emporium? Data demonstrates this unequivocally, that is why retailers place specific merchandise to the right of a store’s main entrance, as well as to the right of other store entrances, to the right of escalators, etc. You will find women’s apparel and accessories to the right of the main entrance in almost all of Target stores as well, and it is where you will see The Webster at Target shop, the womenswear component of the new endeavor.
I thought the clothing in the Webster line was comparable to pieces in any other collaborative collection. The items have nice lines, most of the knits felt fine in the hand, and most of the other pieces are 100% polyester (these don’t feel great). Below we show the Webster Fine Gauge Cardigan as shot on the iPhone by yours truly, as well as an image from Target’s website.
The sweater is a rayon/nylon blend, and it comes in several colorways, all of them attractive. It is priced at $32.99 and looks like a solid value for the price. The construction wasn’t what you will find in a LL Bean or J. Crew sweater, but I didn’t anticipate it would be.
Most items had significant wrinkles and crinkles, but quite a few dresses and tops looked more-than-presentable on the hanger. Are items going to take a beating and last forever? Of course not, but that isn’t the expectation, and everything felt much like a standard Target dress or blouse, no better, no worse.
The other pieces in the group are much the same: nice lines, although the way several dresses felt in the hand was not terribly appealing. To be fair, it is the same reaction I have had to items by Wu, Rowley, Thakoon, and others. When dealing with polyester and/or acetate (in particular), the sensation against one’s skin isn’t going to be soft and silken. This shouldn’t be held against the Webster pieces per se, many of Target’s regular brands are much the same, including merchandise in the brand’s Merona line. (Below, some of the shoe styles in the collection.)
There seemed to be *plenty* of Webster merchandise remaining in the women’s department more than a week after “The Shops” launched. This is quite a departure from the frenzied buying that has gone on with other collections, it is difficult to know if customers simply don’t find things appealing, or if inventory management is better with more deliveries later in the line’s life-cycle, or if more merchandise was ordered upfront. (Below we show the Palm Straw Tote, $39.99.)
Nor is there a booming secondary market from what I saw during a quick “Webster at Target” eBay survey. Of the most recent 100 listings only 3 items had sold, one a Tank With Ruffle at $24.99, this item retails at $19.99 and is available online in the size and print it was auctioned for. The second item that successfully sold on eBay was a Smocked Neck Embroidered Gauze Top, it sold for $39.99, $10 more than its price at Target; this piece is also available online and in-store in this size. The third eBay item that sold is a pair of earrings, they also went for a bit more than the Target price. All in all I didn’t note *any* of the insane price gouging seen with other collections, nor is there a high sell-through rate on the listings, leading me to believe the collection simply isn’t that appealing.
As far as other products, almost all took some looking to locate. In particular the Polka Dog Bakery items were “buried,” only seen on an end cap (a special display at the end of a row of merchandise, facing out into a primary aisle) as I was heading back to the primary checkout area of the store. And what I did see on the display was only the edible portion of this collection for pets, not the collars, leads and toys.
Above we see items from “The Candy Store at Target,” the merchandise looked fun and appealing, but if I hadn’t been looking for
cookies necessary food items I never would have seen the display. The Candy Store items aren’t available online, but from what I saw there is plenty remaining in stores. Another “Shop” with plenty of merchandise remaining was The Cos Bar at Target.
Again, there was nothing special about the display. Perhaps Target doesn’t want there to be, but on some level I expected “more”: a splashier display, a greater touch of whimsy, something, anything telling me why this was special. It wasn’t there.
The one “Shop” that seemed to be experiencing decent sell-through was homegoods line The Privet House at Target.
But again, there was little in either display area that said “Hey, look at this, it’s really cool!” Some merchandise was displayed in the home store area (storage items, bins), while other items were over near the small appliances and home office section of the store. If it is special wouldn’t you group it together for one big, statement-making display enticing you to come and look at the merchandise?
Obviously yours truly isn’t up to speed on Target’s plans for the collaborative “Shops,” the retailer knows what it is doing, and I’m sure they’ll refine things going forward. But this first offering was surprisingly low-key, perhaps too much so.
That leads us to the next group of “Shops” for the fall. Yesterday the ‘cheap chic’ retailer announced the lineup for its fall installment of The Shops at Target, there will be four new boutiques launching online and in-store September 9:
- Kirna Zabete: a very hip, upscale women’s boutique from New York with a collection by Sarah Easley and Beth Buccini that will feature a 100-piece line showcasing “an urban-chic sensibility and includes dresses, a genuine leather moto jacket, skirts and blouses in graphic prints and textures, as well as lace tights, scarves, hats, handbags and jewelry”
- Odin (three upscale menswear shops in New York) founders Eddy Chai and Paul Birardi are doing a capsule collection “with must-have items such as tailored pants, jackets, knit accessories and a chic weekender bag”
- San Francisco’s The Curiosity Shoppe is creating “…items from kitchenware and decorative pillows to novelty pieces such as stationery and games. Prices range from $3 to $25.”
- PATCH NYC (based in Boston) is also doing a home collection “for guests looking to incorporate vintage-inspired pieces influenced by nature… features a treasure trove of pieces including barware, bedding, tabletop and accents for the home.”
It’s interesting to see how much effort is going into household collections, especially with Target launching its new Nate Berkus line in October, *in addition to* its own branded housewares collection called ‘Threshold’ that debuts this fall. Methinks I am confused by the square footage and accompanying marketing dollars going into the varied collections.
NOTE: Much of the info about Target’s upcoming collections comes via “A Bullseye View,” the retailer’s blog, you can always stay up to speed on most things Targét by visiting this site.