Target Corp. is throwing over its most recognizable brands for new niche labels, mostly developed in-house.
The Minneapolis-based retailer in February said it would overhaul its apparel and home brands, introducing up to 12 labels in 18 months, while phasing out stalwarts such as Merona, for women and men, and Mossimo, men’s wear.
It’s a risky move. “We’re taking some big chunks of brands like Merona and letting guest insights show us what certain needs are and then we’re differentiating [with 12 new brands],” said Mark Tritton, executive vice president and chief merchandising officer. Merona, Mossimo and Cherokee each do more than $1 billion in annual sales volume. Of the potential 12 new brands, Tritton said, “Each adds up to growth in total, but it’s not a one-to-one match” for the retired labels.
Target has been encouraged by Cat & Jack, a new apparel brand for kids and babies that launched last year and is seen reaching $1 billion in annual sales.
Of the 12 brands, Goodfellow & Co., men’s wear; A New Day, women’s apparel; Project 62, home decor, and JoyLab, ath-leisure, have been unveiled. “In September, a men’s, women’s and home brand will launch,” Tritton said, referring to the first three. “The flow and pagination of the release is strategic and measured. The rest of the brands will launch in [the] New Year through 2018. Then we’ll be working on footwear, accessories and the home area.”
Target is aggressively going after the home category. “We have Threshold, a $2 billion brand, and we’re bringing in Project 62,” Tritton said. “We were seeing the aesthetics and style in the way home is going and saw the need to expand the portfolio. The first of the new brands is about a modern aesthetic. Each of the others will differentiate and complement that. Customers can choose to live in one aesthetic or move across brands and have that eclectic home.”
Target this summer will launch Isabel Maternity by Ingrid & Isabel. The new line is a collaboration with Ingrid Carney, founder and chief executive officer of Ingrid & Isabel, a high-end maternity brand best known for its patented Bellaband.
As a result, the retailer is parting ways with Liz Lange, which since 2001 has been the only maternity brand sold at Target. Isabel Maternity by Ingrid & Isabel will consist of 120 items.The collection, which is designed with a focus on fit, function and fashion, will be available in most Target stores in August and on target.com in late July.
“Liz has been an amazing brand to work with and a vanguard of maternitywear,’’ Tritton said. “We looked at guest insights and thought it was the right time to make a change. Ingrid is an innovator. We started working with Ingrid in 2009” when Target sold a version of the Bellaband.
“I knew I was pregnant and my belly popped. It caught me by surprise. Nothing fit because it was built for an average seven-month pregnant belly,” said Carney, explaining why she invented the Bellaband. “I needed something to wrap around my belly that would help hold up my pants, which no longer fit and I had to leave unbuttoned.”
“The Bellaband was always about a mom maintaining her own style,” Carney said. “It works with what she already has in her closet. She’s saying, ‘This is what I can continue to wear’ and, ‘This is what I can use the Bellaband for.’ Then we add in what mom needs. A lot of core items, and on top of that we layer on style that has some connection to current trends.”
Target is testing merchandising approaches for maternity. One is adjacent to women’s apparel and the other would create an adjacency next to intimates and baby. “We know our women continue to shop with us and shop baby afterward,” Tritton said. “We want to celebrate this life moment with them.”
Other retailers have abdicated maternity such as Gap, which in 2016 shifted its assortment online, while retailers like Destination Maternity have been closing stores or some of its nameplates.
“Maternity is a natural space for us to be in,” Tritton said. “We overindex so well in baby and kids’ wear. We’re a destination for both style and family.”
Prices for Isabel Maternity by Ingrid & Isabel range from $9.99 to $39.99, with most under $25. The average price for the core Ingrid & Isabel collection is $65.
With Isabel Maternity by Ingrid & Isabel, Who What Wear, A New Day and JoyLab, women’s apparel will be “a very refreshed floor,” Tritton said.
Asked whether other categories, such as beauty, will be overhauled, Tritton said, “We’re doing a deep dive in every area, and seeing the strength and opportunity of each of the areas. We need to build the new ‘Tar-jay.’”