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Mass Retail Fashion Licensing Targets Men

Very quietly and with little fanfare, mass retailer Target launched Target Collective, a curated collection of Americanmade men’s fashion products from six different designers:

  • Billykirk (bags and accessories);
  • Owen & Fred (soap and accessories);
  • Taylor Stitch (casual wear);
  • Duluth Pack (bags);
  • Locally Grown (T-shirts and hats); and
  • Terrapin Stationers (note cards).

The collection became available exclusively on Target.com on Sunday, March 15. Product prices range from $8 for a pack of “Cool Story Bro” cards from Terrapin to $270 for a leather and canvas briefcase from Duluth Pack. Some, but not all, of the items are reportedly exclusives for Target.

A Shift in Strategy

The collaboration between fashion designers and mass retailers like Target is nothing new. But what make this new Target collection different—at least for Target—is that it targets men rather than women. The online-only launch strategy also represents a departure for Target.

Fast Company immediately proclaimed that the retailer was jumping on the “lumbersexual” trend, appealing to the bearded, flannel-wearing outdoorsy-looking man. Other observers, meanwhile, focused on the quietness of the launch and the fact that it was limited to the electronic realm.

“We kept it low key,” a Target spokeswoman told the Star Tribune. “This program is a new twist on the traditional designer collaboration. It’s a test and learn.”

Growth in Men’s Fashion

According to the research firm IbisWorld, online sales of menswear grew an average of 17% per year from 2010 to 2015, highest of any retail category; double digit average annual growth is also expected to continue for the next five years, according to the Ibis study.

On a separate but related note, The NPD Group credited double-digit sales growth in bags worn by men with stabilizing the $11.5 billion U.S. accessory bag market in 2014.

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