The Target x Neiman Marcus holiday collaboration was the supercollab to end all supercollabs: A partnership with the CFDA and all its most famous members, to be sold at Neiman Marcus and Target. It launched following not only tons of media buzz, but also TV commercials (that seemed to air constantly) and even an elaborate Revenge tie-in. Everyone from Zoe Saldana to Leighton Meester went to the launch party. And yet, it tanked.
While previous Target designer collaborations have sold out in minutes, this one still has a surplus of inventory after a month (the biggest shopping month of the year) on shelves. Currently, items are on clearance for up to 70% off (good thing I returned that $130 Thom Browne jacket that is now $38!). But why?
Time, which is calling the collab an “Epic Retail Fail,” has some ideas. We mixed theirs in with some of our own to come up with the top five reasons it was such an epic fail. In no particular order:
1. It was confusing. With so many parties involved, it was difficult to figure out what exactly it was. Was it a collaboration? Who was it a collaboration between? How many people were involved? Is the quality more in line with Target or Neiman Marcus or the participating designers themselves? Even the advertising was purposely vague. As our own Lauren Sherman pointed out in Ad Age, none of it really mentioned the participating designers’ names–and when Marc Jacobs is involved, you should probably mention that.
2. Designers aren’t known for their yoga mats. Time suggests that customers may have preferred a lower-priced version of, say, an Oscar de la Renta dress over an Oscar de la Renta-branded dog food bowl. Ditto for that Derek Lam skateboard (honestly, did that make sense to anyone?).
3. It wasn’t presented well at Target. I shopped the collection at an editor’s pre-shop event, so I didn’t actually see the collection in a Target store… even though I went to Target a week later (to return what I bought). I also picked up some other things and was probably in the store at least half an hour. Didn’t see it anywhere. Time cites a Wall Street Journal article which notes that the collection was put in the back and presented sloppily.
4. It was too expensive for Target. So maybe $130 for a Thom Browne blazer is reasonable for a Thom Browne or Neiman Marcus customer (and the quality actually was pretty decent if you ignored the almost comically large “Made in Taiwan” tag inside), but if you’re a Target customer, that’s just kind of ridiculous.
5. It just didn’t add up. As Lauren put it, “America’s biggest luxury department store linked logos with America’s biggest competitor to Walmart.” Which… just doesn’t really make sense. Time points out that Neiman’s is aspirational, known for luxurious, unattainable (for most), whimsical items no one really needs (see: Their holiday catalog)–it’s the very antithesis of what Target is all about. “The brand isn’t really considered trendy or edgy; instead, it’s the vanguard of aspirational consumerism,” Martha C. White writes for Time. “And it would seem that a brand image reliant on the idea of old-money luxury clashes with the egalitarian ethos of cheap-chic fashion.”