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Target launches 'archives' collection highlighting design partnerships

Dive Brief:
  • Target is launching a throwback collection featuring products made in its two decades of design partnerships, according to a press release.

  • The archive collection includes nearly 300 items from 20 of its past partnerships, which started with architect Michael Graves in 1999. Also on the list are Proenza Schouler, Thakoon, Rodarte, Zac Posen, Jason Wu and Phillip Lim, among others. The limited collection is for sale Sept. 14 at stores and online, while supplies last, with prices ranging from $7 to $160.

  • To help market the collection and Target's history of working with top designers, the retailer is releasing a book with publishing house Rizzoli that features commentary from designers. Target also tapped RadicalMedia to make a documentary, set for release this fall, about "how Target's innovative approach to affordable design forever changed the retail industry," the company said.

Dive Insight:

Target's new collection is a reminder to customers of what the mass merchant has long done to try to separate itself from the market.

"Design has always been a part of Target's DNA," Target Chief Marketing and Digital Officer Rick Gomez said in the release. "From our stores and the products we create to the partnerships we cultivate, our focus on accessible design sets Target apart, and is one of the reasons guests love to shop with us."

While the retailer "is opening up its archives" of past design partnerships, its contemporary strategy is also based on exclusives, tied largely these days to its private brands. After the success of its children's Cat & Jack label, Target has been on a tear, adding new private labels like they're going out of style (which is definitely not the case in the retail world).

Between 2016 and November 2018, Target launched 20 private label brands in apparel, home decor, electronics and personal care, rolling out eight in 2018 alone. Brands like Opalhouse are focused on developing the retailer's personal style, sending Target's in-house team around the world for inspiration rather than tying up with a known designer.

Target, though, hasn't stopped teaming with celebrity designers. Early in the year it worked up with interior designer Leanne Ford, who co-hosts the show "Restored by the Fords," to release a 30-piece, limited-time collection of modern lighting options. In 2017, Target debuted Hearth & Hand with Magnolia, a lifestyle home brand from Chip and Joanna Gaines of "Fixer Upper."

The list goes on, and probably will keep going on, as Target clearly sees hip designs at lower prices as a competitive advantage​, if not its primary one.

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