We don't think anyone saw this one coming.
Neiman Marcus, America's ultimate luxury department store chain, has joined forces with Target, the most stylish mass-market chain, and 24 card carrying CFDA member designers to create an exclusive collection of over 50 exclusive Holiday gift items that will go on sale at both companies' stores, which includes 1,763 Target stores and the 42 Neiman Marcus stores as well as their websites, on December 1st. The designers (pictured below in tiny form) include: Alice + Olivia, Altuzarra, Band of Outsiders, Brian Atwood, Carolina Herrera, Derek Lam, Diane von Furstenberg, Eddie Borgo, Jason Wu, Judith Leiber, Lela Rose, Marchesa, Marc Jacobs, Oscar de la Renta, Philip Crangi, Prabal Gurung, Proenza Schouler, Rag & Bone, Robert Rodriguez, Rodarte, Skaist-Taylor, Thom Browne, Tory Burch and Tracy Reese. You must have a favorite in there somewhere. Each designer created between one and three items, and prices will range from $7.99 to $499.99, with most items coming in under $60. Proenza Schouler, Rodarte and Jason Wu will be returning to Target after having done collaborations there in the past.
The unlikely collaboration seems to have come about from a mutual admiration of both retailers, and a desire to work together in some way. This project is unconnected to the "Shops at Target" retailer collaboration program which launched this past Spring with specialty retailers, and will include hometown favorites Kirna Zabête and Odin this Fall. Instead, the event evolved from much brainstorming from both parties to figure out a way for the companies to collaborate in a way that would not be inconsistent with either store's image or usual offerings. While Target has done exclusive collections in the past with designers that are carried at Neiman Marcus such as Proenza Schouler or Missoni, Neiman's has typically avoided associations with mass retailers. When asked if the partnership would diminish her store's prestige, Neiman Marcus Chairman Karen Katz told WWD, “We don’t think so. The product and the design is so terrific. For Neiman Marcus, it’s so unexpected,” adding, “Most of our customers buy something at Target, maybe detergent, but this is fun and unique. We hope it brings a smile to our customer’s faces.” The collaboration also accompanies a $1 million donation by both companies to the CFDA "to celebrate the partnership and affirm their continual support the American design community" according to the Neiman Marcus blog.
Exactly what will be included in the product offerings has yet to be announced beyond the hints that some designers will be working well within their usual, expected categories while others have taken the opportunity to experiment in categories like sporting goods, home decor, pet accessories or electronics accessories. Materials will range from real leather and silk to hand beading to hand-blown glass and 18K gold, but those are the only details that have been released so far. Both stores will merchandise the collection in a single shop concept rather than distributing the items throughout the stores. The retailers chose to release the collaboration a few days after Black Friday to avoid it getting lost in the holiday shopping kickoff which, particularly at Target, is more focused on bargains and discounts. Even so, the merchandise is expected to last in stores only for a few of weeks at best, and possibly only a few days if the project gets a response as strong as last year's website crashing Missoni collaboration, so get ready to make your lists as soon as more details are announced. It's going to be a Masstige Christmas.
Neiman Marcus, Target Team in Daring Designer Deal (WWD)
Little Black Book of Designers: Target + Neiman Marcus Holiday Collection (A Bullseye View/Target Blog)
Neiman Marcus + Target! This is Actually Happening (NM Daily)