I love Target. Every time I go it is usually to buy a very specific thing, yet no matter what I end up leaving with a trunk full of goodies at an impossibly affordable price. This Friday my mission was to find a new vacuum, as our old one has grown increasingly ill-tempered in the last month. What I left with was not only a divine Electrolux model for a mere $75, but also a new rug for my bedroom, a few clearance-aisle cream pillows in a luxe velvet fabric, and two pairs of shoes, bien sûr.
The shoes are part of Target’s latest designer collaboration, this time with Singapore-born designer Prabal Gurung. A fairly new name in the industry, Gurung first launched his eponymous line in 2009 and quickly garnered the attention of both the fashion world and Hollywood alike. Known for his flirtatious use of color and flattering silhouettes, Prabal Gurung has dressed celebrities such as Jennifer Lawrence, Michelle Obama, and Kate Middleton. And now thanks to Target, you and I can wear him too!
The relationship between mass retailers and high-end designers is something of a new business model in fashion. In 1983 Halston was the first to offer his more affordable brand Halston III at JC Penney, but the concept was about 20 years too early. Though massively successful in stores, the experiment backfired as more exclusive department stores flared their pretentious nostrils and refused to sell his black label attire, thus downgrading Halston’s reputation as a prestigious designer.
It wasn’t until 2002 when Isaac Mizrahi revived his career by designing a line exclusively for Target that the concept of mass retailer collaborations was considered en vogue. Mizrahi was a huge hit and his brand quickly evolved from just clothing to include bedding and home accessories. So what changed? Well, this time Mizrahi wasn’t competing with a higher end line – he had stopped designing in 1997 after a failure to launch his first diffusion brand, “IS**C” – thus removing the luxury department store snob factor faced by Halston in the ’80s. In fact, Mizrahi’s success with Target was such a hit that he continued to design for them until 2008, when he left for Liz Claiborne. Mizrahi then paved the way for others to follow, as designers like Karl Lagerfeld, Proenza Schouler, Maison Martin Margiela, Comme des Garçons, and Missoni have all since collaborated with affordable mass retailers such as Target, H&M, Uniqlo, and Macy’s. Turns out the relationship has been mutually profitable for all parties: designers get greater brand recognition (and a nice chunk of change) while department stores attract a wider audience and a hefty amount of media attention. Not to mention the consumer (me!) who reaps the most benefit by shopping designers I adore at a price that isn’t just for those with yachts in St. Tropez and off-shore bank accounts in Switzerland. So if your wardrobe could use a little spring in its step this season, head to Target for your next designer purchase – your closet and your wallet will thank you!
Prabal Gurung for Target Nolita Pump, $39.99
Prabal Gurung for Target Lace Up Pump, $39.99