Target Corp. is hoping a dash of Anna Sui’s downtown New York style will lure thrifty consumers.
As the discount retailer pushes to bring designer names to the masses, Sui will be the second participant in Target’s Designer Collaborations series.
Bowing on Sept. 13 on target.com and in about 250 select stores across the U.S., Anna Sui for Target will be available through Oct. 17.
The Designer Collaborations program features more established talents — Alexander McQueen was the inaugural designer — than the up-and-comers of Target’s Go International.
The new program also has an unusual conceit: designers draw inspiration from a collaborative partner, muse or creative element. Sui chose the four main female characters on the CW’s hit show “Gossip Girl.”
Sui, this year’s winner of the CFDA Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award, has estimated annual sales of $20 million at wholesale, 14 global fragrance and cosmetics licenses and a 42-store franchise in China, Japan, Taiwan and Kuwait.
“I have always been a fan of designer partnerships with mass retailers,” Sui told WWD exclusively. “I think it is a great way to bring fashion to everyone. I love Go International and was intrigued with Target’s new take on designer partnerships. It’s a fresh approach. I was able to select a muse or source of creative inspiration to focus the collection around. It is an exciting challenge to try and interpret my aesthetic into a mass-produced product with a specific inspirational source as the focus.”
Target’s Go International initiative is sold in nearly all the chain’s stores and focuses on young or emerging designers. Names the retailer has featured in the past include Luella Bartley, Proenza Schouler, Behnaz Sarafpour, Rogan and Richard Chai. Industry sources have estimated the Go International program does more than $100 million in annual sales.
Despite initiatives like Go International, Target has never recaptured the fashion momentum it had when Isaac Mizrahi was doing an exclusive line for the retailer. In the last year or so, the Minneapolis-based chain has lost ground to Wal-Mart Stores Inc. as its comparable-store sales growth has slowed in the tough economy and it has been perceived as being more expensive than its rival.
Bill Dreher, an analyst at Deutsche Bank, said Designer Collaborations could be just the vehicle Target needs to regain momentum in the apparel area.
“Go International brings in designers that most people haven’t heard of,” Dreher said. “For the most part, it doesn’t have the broader audience appeal of Target’s historic successes like Isaac Mizrahi, Mossimo and Merona.”
So far, Target’s Designer Collaborations choices have both been well known among fashion consumers, Dreher said. “Go International is really for the hard-core dedicated ‘Sex and the City’ type of customer,” he added. “Anna Sui is a very big deal. She’s available at Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom and all over the Internet. These are sort of hotter designers. They’re not sunsetting like Isaac Mizrahi [was when he first was signed].” The collaborative element further serves to broaden the audience of Designer Collaborations. ‘“Gossip Girl’ is very mainstream,” said Dreher. “Not only will it attract Anna Sui clientele, but ‘Gossip Girl’ fans. It’s going to appeal to a wide range of 15- to 34-year-olds. I love the cobranding of it and I love it that it’s names we’ve heard of. It covers a lot of bases.”
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast