Target’s fall fashion trends will include a new apparel brand of its own, the first since pre-pandemic times.
On Sunday, the big-box retailer will roll out “Future Collective,” a women’s ready-to-wear brand with a rotating creative director, or “style partner” each quarter who helps codesign the collection. The first style partner will be Kahlana Barfield-Brown, a former fashion and beauty editor for “InStyle” magazine known for her streetwear-inspired aesthetic.
The news of Future Collective comes on the heels of Target Corp.’s partnership with menswear brand Houston White, which was announced on Wednesday, as the big-box retailer continues to cement its status as a fashion destination. The multiyear Houston White x Target partnership is available exclusively at Target.
“As we continue to invest in our style category and evolve our assortment, we recognize the importance of offering diverse and differentiated brands with a variety of aesthetics to serve all guests,” Jill Sando, chief merchandising officer at Target, told WWD.
“Our portfolio of owned apparel and accessory brands continues to be a key differentiator for Target, offering guests stylish, well-designed brands, all at an incredible value,” she continued. “With the introduction of Future Collective, we believe we’ll further meet the diverse needs of our fashion-conscious guests, reaching both new and existing guests and further establishing Target as a go-to style destination.”
The retailer has 17 of its owned apparel brands — not including Future Collective — spanning across men’s, women’s and children’s. Ten of those are billion-dollar brands, including women’s activewear brand All In Motion, the last owned-apparel brand Target launched, in January 2020.
Target has previously worked with a rotating cast of characters for its annual Designer Collections, which partners with new designers each year in an effort to keep the assortment fresh. (Past collaborations have included Christopher John Rogers, Alexis, Zac Posen, Rodarte and Jason Wu, among others.) But unlike the design partnerships, Future Collective is Target’s own brand — and it’s here to stay.
“The goal is to introduce guests to a rotating roster of notable style influencers through trend-forward assortments — all at a great value,” Sando said. “Each partner will share their unique style and point of view in fashion, offering exciting new collections and fashion aesthetics that will encourage guests to explore and celebrate their individual style.”
Each Future Collective collection will also be limited-edition and effectively out of print once it sells out, increasing the urgency factor for consumers to buy now. The company said it has no plans to reproduce individual collections.
Also unlike the Designer Collective, which works with established designers and brands, Target is kicking off Future Collective with a style partner who does not have a brand. (Although, the company said it may decide to work with established brands, as well as other style and culture influencers, in the future.)
Target chose Barfield-Brown as Future Collective’s first style partner because of their shared values and because the duo had previously worked together last summer for a limited-edition apparel and accessories collaboration.
“This partnership with Kahlana Barfield Brown is a continuation of her long-standing relationship with Target,” Sando explained. “Kahlana is well-known and well-respected within the fashion community as a style leader, making her the perfect first partner as we launch Future Collective.”
Barfield-Brown added: “Target understood who I am, my values and the vision. The best part was feeling seen, heard and supported by the incredible Target team.
“I’ve always dreamed of creating my own line, but I knew it had to be with the right partner — a partner who understood who I was as a creative and gave me autonomy through every step of the process,” she added. “And when you think about a brand that genuinely reaches everyone, you think of Target.”
Barfield-Brown’s Future Collective collection will feature 120 streetwear-inspired women’s apparel and basics items — including dresses, matching sets and pants — as well as some accessories over four seasonal refreshes. The first drop arrives in select Target stores and target.com on Sunday, followed by three more drops, the last of which will be in November. Prices range from $17 to $70 for each piece, with most items under $30, and come in sizes XXS to 4XL.
“I drew inspiration from my own personal fashion formula and the style I’ve created for myself throughout my life,” Barfield-Brown said. “It’s all about the essentials; everything goes back to the foundation. I wanted to build a collection that let you create that strong base with bodysuits, great denim, blazer and jackets and then find your own flair through accessories, layers and fit. It was important to me that these pieces feel classic but versatile, able to stand the test of time while still having cool details that really catch the eye and let your personal style shine.”
Target will reveal the next design partner in December.
Meanwhile, the retailer’s mission to establish itself as a fashion destination continues to evolve, as increasingly busy consumers flock to the mass merchant for fashion trends, household items and food and essentials all in one place. Brands have followed suit, competing for space (both real and digitally) in Target’s ecosystem.
In addition to Target’s owned brands and partnerships, it carries national brands such as Stoney Clover Lane, Levi’s Red Tab, lingerie label Journelle, period-panties brand Thinx, Priyanka Chopra’s hair care brand Anomaly and home goods brand Opalhouse, which was codesigned with Jungalow brand founder and designer. That’s in addition to Ulta Beauty, Disney and Apple shops-in-shop in select locations.
But while Target may have benefited from its essential status during the pandemic, the retailer (much like others in the industry), struggled with price hikes along the supply chain and excess inventory from consumers’ rapidly changing shopping patterns in the most recent quarter. Many people shifted from purchasing home decor and apparel products to goods and services — too quickly for Target’s buying team, which purchases products months in advance, to keep pace. Inflation is also impacting sales, especially for lower-income consumers who are pulling back on discretionary items.
But Sando said Target’s value proposition is what keeps shoppers coming back.
“Incredible design that’s affordable and accessible is a key component across our total portfolio and why guests love shopping at Target,” she said. “Our guests crave newness across many categories at Target, especially in fashion and continue to look to Target for amazing style at an equally amazing value. Future Collective will offer them a new, on-trend apparel and accessories brand that’s affordable, helping them refresh their closets for the fall and beyond.”