NEW YORK — Todd Oldham, Sonia Kashuk, Philippe Starck — now Blue Q?
Bath-and-body care marketer Blue Q, known for its kitschy, cartoonish creations like Dirty Girl, Virgin/Slut and Total Bitch, is the latest firm to be illuminated by the designer haven that is Target.
The Minneapolis-based retailer is rolling out two new Blue Q collections called Me Me Me and Smart Cookie — albeit more reverential than previous Blue Q offerings, but just as whimsical. Seven stockkeeping units from each brand initially launched at Target several weeks ago, and they are expected to reach the retailer’s full complement of 1,148 stores by Oct. 28.
"It happened because of their appetite for creative brands," Blue Q cofounder Mitch Nash said of the Target agreement, which allows Blue Q to sell the brands in other mass distribution outlets.
It all started when a Target buyer approached Mitch Nash and his brother, fellow founder Seth Nash, at a trade show last year. The buyer expressed interest in Dirty Girl, but other avenues were explored because the Nashes wanted to keep the brand in the company’s traditional specialty store distribution. Still, Target "wanted a character-driven brand like Dirty Girl," said Mitch Nash. Dirty Girl is only one of 12 Blue Q brands, but the three-year-old collection is the company’s bread and butter, accounting for nearly 35 percent of net sales.
While ideas for new brands were presented to Target using little more than storyboards, the retailer ran a five-week test of 10 existing Blue Q products in 50 stores around the U.S. The tests were considered "successful," and the retailer "stuck with us through the whole nasty process of brand development," said Mitch Nash, a process that yielded Me Me Me and Smart Cookie. The body washes, creams and lip balms are priced for retail from $4 to $7.
Target could not be reached for comment, and Nash would not discuss numbers, but industry sources expect combined sales of both Me Me Me and Smart Cookie to reach $1 million by yearend.
For Target, the move is seen by some sources as a step in building up the beauty department for a redesign slated for March 2003.For Blue Q, a 14-year-old company that oversees distribution of existing brands to nearly 4,000 specialty store and boutique doors, the move is a departure from business as usual. Retailers from Nordstrom and Ulta to Henri Bendel and Fred Segal Essentials carry Blue Q products, depending on the brand. Nordstrom, for instance, doesn’t carry Virgin/Slut.
But in order to pull off the extensive Target project, "we wanted to get a partner to do it," acknowledged Mitch Nash.
The retailer put Blue Q in touch with Enchante, a supplier already doing business in Target with Belle Maison body care products and home fragrances. Enchante now handles logistics for Me Me Me and Smart Cookie, including manufacturing, distribution and replenishment. "Where Me Me Me and Smart Cookie are geared toward the younger customer, Belle Maison is geared toward a more mature audience," observed Bob Greening, Enchante’s president of Personal Care.
Citing logistics demands, Seth Nash said, "All those things are a very big job. It’s a daunting task for a company of our size at this point." With 45 employees, Pittsfield, Mass.-based Blue Q had retail sales of $16 million last year, according to industry sources, including some overseas distribution.
Blue Q, which established a new division of the company to handle the Me Me Me and Smart Cookie businesses called Make It Snappy, holds the creative reins for the two brands. Sources indicated Blue Q is paid royalties through a licensing agreement with Enchante, which is based here.
“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