A new sign that Target is making broader efforts on style came over the weekend with the launch of a new men’s design collection online.
“It’s surprising to see Target go after men after focusing so much on women,” said Leon Nicholas, senior vice president at Kantar Retail. “The new collection is clearly an effort to zero in on style.”
Six brands make up the collection: Billykirk travel bags and accessories, Owen & Fred soaps and accessories, Locally Grown T-shirts and caps from Iowa, Terrapin stationery, Taylor Stitch slacks and shirts, and Minnesota-based Duluth Pack overnight and messenger bags. Prices range from $10 to $270, with most under $100.
All items are made in the United States, a nod to the “Made in USA” retail movement. “Men are more likely than women to adopt it,” said Target spokeswoman Jessica Carlson.
That’s part of the reason that many of the items are priced on the high side for a discounter, including a $36 tee from Locally Grown, Taylor Stitch pants for $98, and a bar of vegan soap with cedar tray for $16. The highest-priced item is a Duluth Pack bag for $270.
It’s part of the retailer’s ongoing effort to move to higher prices and higher margin items, Nicholas said. “If we lose penetration, let’s double down on where the money is,” he said of Target’s strategy.
In an early review, fashion trade journal Women’s Wear Daily called the collection of army greens, grays, blacks and navys “understated” and something that “Ron Swanson might shop for,” referring to the meat-, hunting- and whiskey-loving uberman character of TV’s recently concluded “Parks & Recreation.”
Carlson described the line as universal but geared toward the millennial customer who is more likely to be researching and buying online than in stores. Instead of traditional advertising, the company is using social media to reach younger men.
Compared with the announcement of the Lilly Pulitzer line in January, the men’s design collection received little fanfare.
It was given no “heads up” in Target’s Sunday circular. The dominant ad online on its release date Sunday was not the men’s collection but rather the “spring home sale.”
“We kept it low-key,” Target’s Carlson said. “This program is a new twist on the traditional designer collaboration. It’s a test and learn.”
The new collection will remain online until midsummer. Most of the items are Target exclusives, codesigned by Target and the brand. Some of the Billykirk items will be available in 160 stores in May.