Target Taps Rachel Comey, Victor Glemaud, Nili Lotan and Sandy Liang for Fall Designer Collection

Target Taps Rachel Comey, Victor Glemaud, Nili Lotan and Sandy Liang for Fall Designer Collection

Target has some new designer friends, including Rachel Comey, Victor Glemaud, Sandy Liang and Nili Lotan. 
The big-box retailer revealed its Fall Designer Collection on Monday. The limited-edition assortment consists of more than 180 pieces, ranging in price from $15 to $80 and sizes XXS to 4X.  

Looks from the fall 2021 Target Designer Collection by Victor Glemaud. 
Courtesy Photo

“For the past 20 years, our guests have continued to express excitement when we introduce them to new and emerging designers from across the globe, all at an incredible value,” Jill Sando, executive vice president and chief merchandising officer at Target, said in a statement. “This fall, we’re building upon that legacy and bringing together four dynamic and highly regarded designers to introduce a collection of inclusive, on-trend and timeless fashion staples to re-energize guests’ wardrobes for the fall season.”

The retailer has a long history of showcasing designers in its stores and online. In April, Target tapped Christopher John Rogers, Alexis and Rixo for its 2021 Designer Dress Collection. The company has also previously worked with LoveShackFancy, Cushnie, Lisa Marie Fernandez, Zac Posen, Anna Sui, Rodarte, Missoni, Phillip Lim, Jason Wu and Lilly Pulitzer, among others.

Pieces from Target’s fall 2021 Designer Collection by Sandy Liang. 
Courtesy Photo

Meanwhile, the company’s apparel assortment continues to grow, even with so many consumers working from home over the last year-and-a-half. In the most recent quarter, apparel sales grew 60 percent, year-over-year, thanks to strength across loungewear, innerwear, activewear, men’s wear and children’s apparel. That’s in addition to a number of private-label partnerships at Target, including Levi’s and Journelle, and the mass merchant’s own apparel brands, such as activewear label All In Motion. 
“So apparel has been one of our strengths,” Brian Cornell, chairman and chief executive officer of Target, told reporters in November. “And certainly from a market-share standpoint, one of the real highlights from our business throughout the quarter. And we certainly see that continuing as we finish up the year.”

Will CVS, Target and Walmart Pave the Way for More Sustainable Retail Bags?

Will CVS, Target and Walmart Pave the Way for More Sustainable Retail Bags?

A new reusable bag pilot may be coming to a CVS, Target or Walmart near you.
The pilot is the crux of the “Beyond the Bag” initiative, launched by the Consortium to Reinvent the Retail Bag (with founding members such as CVS Health, Target, Walmart and Closed Loop Partners) to redesign the single-use plastic bag. In July 2020, the Consortium announced an innovation challenge gathering hundreds of applications from international innovators to create a new option for retail bags.
In all, $15 million has been committed to the initiative with Dick’s Sporting Goods, The TJX Companies, Inc., The Kroger Co. and more signing on.
Since the announcement of challenge winners in February, progress made is now materializing at stores.

Starting Aug. 2 through Sept. 10, select Beyond the Bag challenge winners will have their innovations tested across nine high-traffic CVS, Target and Walmart stores in Northern California, with progress updates and customer reach to be shared once the project is fully underway.
Four solutions, including Goatote (reusable bag kiosk), Fill it Forward (an app that tracks the use of bags customers already own), ChicoBag (reminds customers to use reusable bags on-site and get rewards for each use) and 99Bridges (Internet of Things-powered app called Mosaic that tracks end-to-end bag use) — will be tested in-store. Customers at participating stores can opt in to test these new solutions.

Calling the pilot an “essential step to test, incorporate customer and retailer feedback, and improve new solutions, exploring pathways to scale,” Kate Daly, managing director of the Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners, a partner to the Consortium, said quick iteration is the aim.
The project mirrors a past initiative by The Center called the “NextGen Consortium” which included the commercialization of a more sustainable cup for pilot at McDonald’s and Starbucks.
“At Walmart, we believe climate change requires bold collective action. Minimizing plastic waste, in particular, depends on collaboration and cooperation across the retail industry,” said Jane Ewing, senior vice president of sustainability at Walmart. “These pilots represent a unique and exciting industry-wide commitment towards a more sustainable future, and we are excited to work with the Consortium to Reinvent the Retail Bag and to be a catalyst for meaningful change.”
Expressing excitement for the pilot, Amanda Nusz, senior vice president of corporate responsibility at Target and president of the Target Foundation added “co-creation,” “collaboration” and “continuous iteration” are key.
In addition to the in-store pilots, other winning solutions from the Beyond the Bag Challenge will be piloted and tested in different contexts, including reusable and refillable returns solution Returnity and digital identity solution Eon. Walmart delivery will test the solutions in select markets.
Initial learnings from the current pilot could inform scaled-up options in the future, as The Consortium to Reinvent the Retail Bag looks to evaluate the solutions and initiate future tests, programs and investments.

Athleta Launches Fitness Platform AthletaWell

Athleta Launches Fitness Platform AthletaWell

Athleta is upping its fitness game.
The women’s athletic apparel- and accessories-maker, which is owned by Gap Inc., has launched a new social platform called AthletaWell. 
“At its core, AthletaWell is really providing a safe space for women to navigate the complexities of modern-day womanhood and get expert advice on topics all rooted in female wellbeing,” Kim Waldmann, Athleta’s chief digital officer, told WWD. “[Topics] we’re afraid to ask for fear of embarrassment, or maybe they’re taboo, or we don’t want to look like we’re different than everybody else. Like, what are tips for sleep? Or fertility. Or even simple things, like I’m a DD, is there a good bra that doesn’t chafe endlessly?”

The platform also includes interest-based groups, where members can join in conversations or start their own; access to Athleta “guides,” or experts, such as yoga teachers, medical doctors, mediation guides, strength trainers, dietitians, physical therapists and motivational speakers, and links to events, both virtual and in-person around the country, such as run clubs and exercise classes, helping Athleta shoppers create community. 

AthletaWell, Athleta’s new fitness and wellness platform, is available by way of desktop and mobile devices and includes a section with Athleta “Guides,” or experts in various fitness and wellness areas. 
Courtesy Photo

“At Athleta, we really think about it in an omnichannel kind of way, to meet the customer wherever she wants to be and wherever she wants to be,” Waldmann said. “We know that there’s so much value in driving brand loyalty and deepening our engagement without customers. We know that our loyalty program customers spend over two times more with us than our non-loyalty member customers. So, for us to be able to offer [AthletaWell] as sort of a benefit of the loyalty program, it will drive more loyalty participation. And those individuals who are much more engaged with the brand spend more with the brand.” 

And Athleta has no shortage of loyal fans. The rapidly growing brand had revenues of $978 million in 2020 and roughly 200 stores around the nation. In January, Athleta set a new goal: $2 billion in revenues by 2023 and plans to open between 20 and 30 more stores a year. Three months later, the San Francisco-based business said it was also moving to Canada, launching an e-commerce site there. 
For the launch of AthletaWell, Athleta is also partnering with Obé Fitness, a digital fitness platform. Athleta Rewards members will be able to access exclusive 10-minute Obé Fitness workout videos for free on AthletaWell. 
“We know being active is an important part of our customers’ overall wellbeing, so we are thrilled to invest in and partner with Obé and offer the Athleta community access to this like-minded partner,” said Mary Beth Laughton, president and chief executive officer of Athleta. “As our brand continues to grow, this investment creates a unique engagement opportunity for our customers and helps us build even more loyalty over time.” 
Waldmann added that the partnership will help Athleta reach a wider audience. 
“What we were really attracted to with Obé was just how democratic it is,” she explained. “The fact that you can get these incredible high-quality workouts, but you can watch it on your laptop, your phone, whatever screen. You don’t have to buy a really expensive piece of equipment or hardware to be able to participate. And for us at Athleta, that’s so core to our brand values. 

“Obé is really the anchor partner for the fitness experience,” Waldmann continued. “But I think what you’ll see from us as we continue to build out this platform is we will continue to partner with like-minded brands that are best-in-class in their fields across the full spectrum of female wellbeing.” 
Meanwhile, there’s no shortage of competition in the activewear market, which continues to expand at full speed.  
In fact, during the pandemic, everyone from Target Corp. to American Eagle Outfitters Inc.’s Aerie to Madewell to Danielle Bernstein’s WeWoreWhat, was trying to find their place in the world of athleisure, performance wear and wellness. On Tuesday, Lululemon revealed plans to partner with Wysdom, an artificial intelligence firm, for a digital wellbeing platform that is set to launch sometime in 2022. Even Rihanna may be getting into the game soon. 
Waldmann said AthletaWell is unique in that it brings together various elements of fitness, apparel and wellbeing in one place for free. 
“There are Q&A platforms out there; there are blogs on fertility and yoga. And there are plenty of fitness apps,” she said. “But there really isn’t a place for women to get access to vetted experts across the whole spectrum of female well-being. AthletaWell is about physical well-being. But Athleta is also interested in mental well-being, emotional well-being and environmental well-being.” 
Athleta Rewards loyalty members have access to AthletaWell by way of (Shoppers can sign up for the loyalty program for free by providing an email address.) Waldmann said the brand will also introduce an AthletaWell “native app experience” within the Athleta app later this year.

Reading the State of Retail in Fashion’s Quarterly Reports

Reading the State of Retail in Fashion’s Quarterly Reports

There’s no perfect read on this extraordinary moment in retail history — but Walmart Inc., Target Corp., Ralph Lauren Corp., VF Corp. and Macy’s Inc. together gave a kind of synopsis of the situation in the U.S. with their quarterly updates last week.
The pandemic is waning in the U.S. and Europe as vaccinations rise, consumers are coming back out (buying dresses, but staying casual) and the start of the new normal could be here after more than a year of hibernation. 
Many companies went bust in the pandemic, but the strongest players did their best to position themselves to try to catch the boom afterward — and now they’re starting to go for it. 
It’s an uncertain mad scramble for what’s next, with fingers crossed that some new COVID-19 variant doesn’t slow it all back down. 

Here, a look at what the industry learned last week as some of the biggest U.S. players opened their books and started talking more about the future now that they’re on firmer ground. 
Cash Is Still King
Amid the human tragedy of the coronavirus was a downright financial emergency — and it was the chief financial officers who had to act. They stepped in to cut costs and started storing up cash, while many also moved to cut their debt. Some companies have let loose of the purse strings — VF Corp. made its move to snap up Supreme in a $2.1 billion deal. But many are still sitting on a pile of cash that could be put to work as the industry continues its fast-forward transformation.

The fashion COVID-19 playbook generally called for squirreling away cash and cutting debt.

Cash, Short-term Investments
(in billions)

One-year Change
Total Debt
(in billions)

One-year Change

TJX Cos. Inc.

Target Corp.

Walmart Inc.

Ralph Lauren Corp.

Macy’s Inc.

VF Corp.

Kohl’s Corp.

Source: S&P Capital IQ

Leaner and Meaner Leads
The crisis focused the corporate mind and many business models. The mantra for the strongest in 2020 was centered on coming out of the pandemic even stronger. That translated into efforts to cut costs, stores, real estate and focusing in on a company’s strengths. 
Ralph Lauren Corp. took over $700 million in sales out of its business last year as it shifted Chaps to a licensed model, agreed to sell Club Monaco, left more than 200 U.S. department stores, cut its off-price business and moved to reduce daigou sales. 
That has freed the company to build on its namesake brand and move prices higher — average unit retail prices at the company rose 26 percent last year and are on a four-year tear. 
“We view our brand as bigger than our business,” said Patrice Louvet, president and chief executive officer, who is especially pumped up about bringing 4 million new customers into the company’s direct-to-consumer network last year.  “Typically these new consumers are higher-basket size, higher profits from a gross margin standpoint and younger, so really an exciting profile,” he said. 
Party Hearty Ahead 
Jeff Gennette, chairman and CEO of Macy’s, said customers are ready to get out and spend — and keep spending. 
“You’ve got customers with very low credit card balances, lots of open to spend, and to varying degrees they’ve been cooped up over the last year,” he said. 

“This will be a gigantic gift holiday. We are approaching it that way,” Gennette said, projecting strong demand in fragrance, fine jewelry, boots, handbags and home categories. 
And New Year’s celebrations? The CEO is looking for them to “be at a whole other level.”
Keeping Habits 
As the world opens back up, most expect consumers to change again, rolling into the future instead of reverting back to where they were in early 2020. But as shoppers evolve, they are starting from an outlook that’s been shaped by a year spent closer to home for many. 
Michelle Gass, CEO of Kohl’s, said: “Consumers will continue to live more actively and casually as normalcy returns. As more people return to work, resume travel and attend events and gatherings, they are seeking out new and updated apparel while maintaining the preference for casual comfort, which fits squarely into the product categories we are taking a leadership position in. Against this backdrop, Kohl’s is positioned really well.”
Staying Essential 
While much of the industry was put on its back foot by the COVID-19 lockdowns, the broad line giants — especially Walmart and Target — were able to stay open and curry favor with shoppers as they doled out groceries and other essential items. And as the world has opened back up, they seem to be benefitting from the momentum.
Brian Cornell, chairman and CEO of Target Corp., said, “Market-share gains of more than $1 billion in the first quarter, on top of $1 billion in share gains a year ago, demonstrate Target’s continued relevance with our guests, even as they have many more shopping options compared with a year ago. Our performance in the first quarter was outstanding on every measure and showcased the power of putting our stores at the center of our strategy.” The mass merchant used stores to fulfill the majority of its online orders. 
Stores Star
After a year of amped-up growth of e-commerce, retailers are able to again accentuate their brick-and-mortar operations. For T.J. Maxx and Marshalls parent The TJX Cos. Inc., which is still heavily dependent on stores, that’s especially good news. 
“Our treasure-hunt shopping experience, eclectic mix of merchandise, and great brands and values continue to resonate with shoppers across our geographies,” said Ernie Herrman, chief executive officer and president. “While the environment remains uncertain, particularly internationally, we are convinced we are strongly positioned as we emerge from this health crisis.”

And offprice leader TJX said it’s not done building boxes. “We see a significant opportunity to grow our global store base at each of our divisions,” Herrman said. “In total, we believe we can open more than 1,600 additional stores to grow to about 6,275 stores in the long term just with our current banners and our current countries. Availability of real estate is terrific, and we see plenty of opportunities to open new stores or relocate existing stores.”
Techier Still
Fashion has spent the last year leaning into technology more than ever (and out necessity). The trend shows no sign of slowing down on either the consumer side of the business or the supply chain.
Steve Rendle, chairman, president and CEO of Vans and Supreme parent VF Corp., said: “We’ve been actively working to accelerate our hyper digital journey in fiscal ’21 with continued focus on a central consumer data platform that’s accessible to our brands and that enables them to understand consumers more deeply and to engage them in more meaningful and personal ways. And we leverage new technologies and processes to further digitize our go-to-market approach with advancements in 3D design and development, virtual product reviews and digital printing capabilities that shorten production calendars and accelerate our ability to flow newness and innovation.”
Not Over Yet
For the biggest of the big, operating with truly global scale, COVID-19 remains a real and present danger. 
Doug McMillon, president and CEO of Walmart, said: “The past several weeks have been more challenging in some countries. India, Canada, Chile and South Africa are priorities at the moment. Supporting our associates is our primary focus, but we’re also investing our resources to support the countries as we find opportunities to do so. In India, we’re donating oxygen concentrators, PPE and financial support.”
But through it all, Walmart has been able to press its advantages and expand. “We saw an acceleration of traffic in our stores, gained market share in grocery, improved in-stock levels and grew e-commerce sales globally by 43 percent in constant currency, excluding recent divestitures,” McMillon said in his update to Wall Street. “Global e-commerce penetration now represents over 12 percent of total company sales, an increase of 340 basis points over last year.”
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