For contemporary brands Fe Noel, Agua Bendita and Rhode, becoming Target’s limited-time-only design partners for its Spring Designer Collection was an opportunity to raise their profiles and bring their collections to a wider audience.
“It was a beautiful experience,” said Felisha Noel, the designer behind Fe Noel. “The thing that’s so special about this partnership is expanding Fe Noel beyond my wildest dreams. We started so small and get to enter a global market. There are so many people who are fans of the brand and want to wear it, and now they have the opportunity. It’s super amazing. People are going to lose their minds,” she said.
The designers and their collections for Target were introduced Tuesday morning at an event at 548 West 22nd Street, where individual shops were created to showcase their spring ready-to-wear and accessories.
Target’s Spring Designer Collection includes more than 100 apparel and accessories resortwear pieces, ranging in size from XXS to 4X. The apparel includes matching sets, dresses and swimwear, while the accessories include hats, bags, beach towels and sunglasses. Retail prices range from $15 to $48, with most items $35 and under.
The collections will be sold on Target.com and in select Target stores for a limited time beginning April 15, while supplies last. Guests can also shop the assortment via Target’s contactless same-day pickup options, including Drive Up and Order Pickup.
The three women-owned brands worked closely with Target to bring their signature aesthetics to the retailer, and created a collection to wear from beach to street and from pool parties to weekend brunch.
“Target has a long history of bringing to our guests the world’s best designers at amazing prices and our partnership with Agua Bendita, Fe Noel and Rhode is another great example of that,” said Jill Sando, executive vice president and chief merchandising officer of Target. “These are bold, distinctive, women-founded brands inspired by their own roots and cultures, and I know our guests will absolutely love them.”
Target, which has a $17 billion apparel business that has grown by $3 billion over the past thee years, has been doing these limited-edition designer collaborations since 1999.
Agua Bendita, a designer swim and beachwear line, was founded by best friends Catalina Alvarez and Mariana Hinestroza 20 years ago with some leftover fabric. Their premium brand sells at such stores as Bergdorf Goodman, Net-a-porter, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus and Matchesfashion.com and is known for its designs handmade by more than 500 female Colombian artists. In-house artists make every illustration by hand. “Most of them are women based in the countryside of Colombia. They raise their children, and it’s a pleasure to have them as part of our team,” said Alvarez.
Agua Bendita’s line for Target features an array of colorful swimwear and ready-to-wear pieces including matching sets, dresses and accessories.
“It was a gorgeous experience. We tried to keep our DNA and we saw that it was perfectly possible,” said Alvarez.
“We want every single thing to have a bit of our Colombian culture. Our brand shows the exuberance of Colombia — the topical weather, the variety, the magic — you can feel the energy and good vibes,” said Alvarez.
The Target line was based on all their prints. “It was incredible to have the opportunity for every single woman in the world to wear our pieces,” she said. When asked how they were able to manufacture it at such an accessible price, Alvarez said all the fabrics are recycled and Target, with its large supply chain, did all the manufacturing.
She said her favorite pieces are the pareos, which are worn as a set, and a one-piece swimsuit with ruffles.
Agua Bendita started working on the collaboration with Target over a year ago.
“We learned a lot. These people are completely organized step by step,” said Alvarez. “It was a big and huge opportunity. They have a very strong team. Everything single thing is on point.”
Fe Noel, who hails from Brooklyn, started her namesake label at 19 years old when she opened a boutique for vintage lovers and trendsetters in her neighborhood. The boutique served as a catalyst for her womenswear brand, which is heavily influenced by her Caribbean heritage in Granada.
“We’re living our Caribbean roots loud and proud, inspired by the natural resources around us. Fe Noel is about effortless luxury and seeing life in all its beauty,” said Noel. Her collection for Target features swimwear, pants and cover-ups in bold prints and pops of color.
“I definitely feel it’s my way of saying ‘thank you.’ After 10 years of Fe Noel, it’s a great way to celebrate,” she said. She recalled that when she originally started talking to Target, they said, “tell us about yourself.”
“They said, ‘We want you to bring your authenticity and bring your vibe,’ and they said, ‘we’re going to do that for you.’ When they told me people could get an entire outfit for under $100, it was amazing,” said Noel.
She said Fe Noel’s signature line is manufactured in New York City’s Garment District and is sold at fenoel.com. “Target allows us to give the same vibe at a great price point,” said Noel. She also said the opportunity gave her a chance to expand into bags, jewelry and sunglasses.
“I’m telling people, ‘walk don’t run,'” she said.
Rhode was founded by Hamilton College roommates turned best friends Phoebe Vickers and Purna Khatau, in 2014. It was born out of a desire for comfortable and timeless pieces. The designers take inspiration from handmade vintage prints, directional yet wearable silhouettes and the concept of being forever on a journey. Rhode sells to such stores as Saks, Bergdorf’s, Shopbop, Bloomingdale’s, Net-a-Porter and Revolve.
Asked what it was like to work at this price point, Vickers said, “It’s incredible to be able to offer this level of quality at such affordable prices and to reach that broader audience. The fact that Target is a mass retailer, it’s incredible what their sourcing and production capabilities are. We’re thrilled to be able to offer it at this price point, while maintaining that kind of standard.”
Discussing their inspiration for the Target collection, Khatau said, “The beauty and vibrancy of India is a constant source of inspiration. We also think a lot about ease and comfort — flattering silhouettes that can be dressed up or down and pieces that make you feel more confident.”
Vickers spoke about the experience of working with Target.
“This is legitimately a dream come true. We’ve been fans of these Target collaborations since the very first one. Being here is surreal and amazing,” said Vickers.
Asked what they learned from the Target experience, Vickers said, “I think we learned the amount of care and thoughtfulness that goes into creation of these collections. From Day One it was such a true collaboration. That was really amazing.”
“It was truly a collaboration,” agreed Khatau, who designs the collection. “They held our hands and listened to us, which was great. It really feels true to the DNA of our brand and is not diluted. We’re excited to bring it to a wider audience.”
She said she’s especially excited about the swim offerings “because it’s something we’ve never done before.”