Target's latest embrace of an upscale fashion brand turned into another frenzy.
The retailer and Vineyard Vines, the maker of preppy fashion that got its start on Martha's Vineyard, last weekend offered a collection of about 300 apparel and home goods.
As usual with a fashion partner, Target produces and sells the product at lower prices than through department stores and other outlets. The results were also typical: a stampede of customers in stores and online leading to a rapid sellout.
"Altogether, the Vineyard Vines launch is already one of the most successful in our history," Target's chief merchandising officer Mark Tritton said Wednesday as the firm announced its fiscal first-quarter results.
The Vineyard Vines collection was geared toward summer and most of the items were priced less than $35, which is less than the $45 that a Vineyard Vines T-shirt costs in department stores. The quick sellout led to complaints on social media that Target had underestimated demand and forced consumers to go to extremes to get the merchandise.
A Target spokeswoman said the retailer had geared up with extra inventory, compared to other limited releases, based on early chatter on social media. The company has had more than 175 such designer partnerships since it first launched the concept in 1999, with recent collaborations including Lilly Pulitzer, Hunter, Marimekko and Victoria Beckham.
Target and Vineyard Vines marketed the partnership heavily, especially on the East Coast. The firms built a pop-up store in Brookfield Place, a mall in lower Manhattan, and paid for an eight-page wraparound advertisement in the Sunday edition of the New York Times. Target also dispatched a traveling truck that dispensed whale stickers and helped generate buzz.
Because of their limited size, Target's fashion partnerships tend to generate bigger marketing buzz than additional pop to the bottom line. Target CEO Brian Cornell said Wednesday that the financial impact of the Vineyard Vines partnership "will show up in our second-quarter scorecard."
For those who missed out, Target officials said some Vineyard Vines items are still available on target.com. Others might trickle back to stores through merchandise returns.
Then there are the bevy of resale sites where online sellers seek premium markups, in many cases asking for double Target's price. At least for now.