By  on March 10, 2010

The Target + Liberty of London collection will be in full bloom Sunday in most Target stores.

But first, the 300-item line with Liberty’s microflorals and explosive blossom prints splashed over apparel for women, men, girls and infants, as well as home products, bedding, garden tools, stationery, candles and bicycles, will be unveiled at a 5,285-square-foot pop-up shop here. The Target + Liberty of London Experience at 1095 Sixth Avenue near Bryant Park, features an indoor garden with 12,500 live flowers, green foliage covering the cash wrap and digital projections of 12 Liberty prints onto larger than life size products such as a giant tea cup and enormous umbrella, create a sensory experience. The pop-up shop is open today from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Thursday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Target + Liberty of London didn’t start out as such an ambitious project. “I was interested from the beginning in a larger idea, but I don’t think we ever went into the phone call [with Liberty of London] thinking they’d be receptive to that,” said Trish Adams, senior vice president of merchandising at Target. “We started out saying, ‘Would you be willing to work with us? It could be as simple as a Go International collection, or, if your appetite is there, it could be an across-the-store initiative, something we haven’t done much of in the past.’”

Ed Burstell, creative director of Liberty of London, knew he wanted in on the project. “We were pretty open to both ideas,” he said. “Being the American in the United Kingdom, I had to do a certain amount of convincing that it could be a good thing.”

As the two companies began working together, many of Liberty’s concerns, such as whether the prints would look authentic in spite of being mass produced, were erased. “We made a trip to London to show them what we’re capable of doing,” Adams said. “They were pretty surprised about what mass production can look like. As we progressed through the project, they were very excited. They saw it as an opportunity to deliver their products at a different price point.”

“Target took these punchy florals and made them really modern,” Burstell said. “They approached it in a fresh, modern way. It really gives our products some fresh design and talent. They brought our world to life in a different way.”

Because of the product’s commercial potential, Target decided to support the collection with a TV and print ad campaign and pop-up store. “It grew as we progressed through the project,” Adams said. “We didn’t start out with the marketing budget you see. We reacted to the strength of the collection.”

Liberty responded to the collection by placing an order for its Regent Street flagship. “There are very few overlapping products,” Burstell said. “It’s giving it some whimsy.”

Target this month has several designer names in many of its stores. Jean Paul Gaultier for Go International launched on Monday in about 400 units. “Liberty appeals across more guest segments and is in [most] Target stores,” Adams said. “[Liberty and Jean Paul Gaultier] are running side by side. It’s unusual. We don’t do that.”

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