Published on: March 29, 2017by Kate McMahon
Target is banking on fashion designer Victoria Beckham to spice up sagging sales when her new line debuts next month.
For the former pop star turned celebrity entrepreneur, it’s her first foray into budget friendly fashion – including kids’ clothing and plus-size offerings.
For Target, it’s an opportunity to reclaim its reputation for successful style collaborations after faltering on recent partnerships with Missoni and Lilly Pulitzer, infuriating customers on a lot of levels. Given the pre-launch hype, combined with slumping sales and stock price, Target had better get this right.
The Minneapolis-based retailer recently vowed to invest “billions of dollars” to lower prices and remodel stores following disappointing fourth quarter sales and profit reports. Facing increased pressure from both Walmart and Amazon in its key everyday essentials category, Target’s 2017 sales projections are grim.
CEO Brian Cornell promised to cut prices and make it easy for customers to “grab-and-go” with those essentials while still delivering on the “style-side of the equation."
Enter Victoria Beckham, who rocketed to pop stardom in the 1990s with the Spice Girls. The glamorous “Posh Spice” cemented her celeb icon status when she married soccer superstar David Beckham, and launched her high-end fashion line.
A “look book” of her 200-plus designs for Target lit up the internet last week, and landed her on the cover of InStyle magazine. While the price tags in her eponymous fashion line are in the high three figures, the Target collection items will range from $6 to $70, with the majority falling under the $40 price point.
It’s a limited edition partnership, which Target pioneered in the early 1990s and has recently found to be a double-edged sword – lots of buzz and excitement before the launch and angry, disappointed customers afterward.
Demand for the 2011 collection with the haute Italian designer Missoni crashed Target’s e-commerce system while frenzied fans stormed the stores. The 2015 Lilly Pulitzer collection sold out within hours (and minutes in some locations) and left empty-handed shoppers fuming next to empty racks and on social media. Target expected the collection to sell out in weeks, not less than a day, and apologized for the “unacceptable” shopping experience. Really? That level of miscalculation is beyond unacceptable for the nation’s sixth biggest retailer.
The disappointed are still feeling the sting, as evidenced by this response to the Victoria Beckham collection look book on Target’s Facebook page:
”I'm hesitant to get excited because it will all be gone the second it is available, only to show up in eBay at a 500% markup within minutes. I love these collaborations but you make it impossible for regular shoppers to have a shot at getting any of it.”
Target also came under fire for offering the plus-size Lilly Pulitzer fashions online, and not in stores.
The Victoria Beckham x Target collection is set to launch on April 9, but no word yet on when the online sale actually will open or when hopeful shoppers should begin to line up outside brick-and-mortar stores. Also no word if the plus-size fashions up to size 24 will be online only.
I think this comes at a critical time for Target, which is trying to be both a cost-competitive store for everyday items and home to a trend-setting retail experience. Hopefully the folks in charge of the e-commerce system and stocking the stores did their homework this time and can meet the anticipated demand.
Target can’t afford another crash and burn. Otherwise, instead of spicing up sales, the Victoria Beckham collection will just leave a very bad taste for frustrated and disappointed consumers.
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