Hitting the Bullseye

Merchandising expert Julie Guggemos makes sure Target trends are right on the mark

“To look ‘in season’ for the upcoming holiday, go back to twists on classic gifts. Faux fur is in, so maybe you give a set of faux-fur pillows or throw blankets.

Julie Guggemos has a mouthful of a title: Vice President and General Merchandise Manager for Home and Hardlines, Product Design and Development at Target HQ. She has more than 21 years of experience, not to mention what she calls a “balanced brain between art and science.” She shops the world, finds trends, then communicates them to a team of 200 or so, in order to create and develop products seen on the shelves. Here, some of her thoughts on trends.

We have six cycles throughout the year, where we shop a mix of places throughout the United States and Europe. I just returned from Maison in Paris.

This holiday, we are seeing a lot of what we’re calling “Gilded Noel”: it looks like European vintage. You’ll see age-worn wood and linens mixed with Lurex, metallic embroidery, or shine. Mercury glass will be big.

Sometimes we have to choose which trend will be bigger. For example, we were seeing a lot of purple and gray formal fabrics that were gorgeous. But we ask ourselves how many guests will be able to incorporate that into their home.

I shop all the time. I note something that feels new or never-been-seen, and I watch for sheer abundance. We cull down the trends to a manageable number we can put in the stores.  

Trends are coming and going as fast as they always have, but guests are responding more to basics right now.

We’re seeing a Ralph Lauren aesthetic, but with a twist. There are a lot of menswear and equestrian looks, chevrons and twills, antlers and horse heads. But the antlers are, say, dipped in neon [paint]. Or made of papier-mâché. Without the wink, it would just look old.

Our product engineers really do the work. They start from the beginning and shop to find what they need. Recently, they went camping in Wisconsin to test out tents. They got caught in a huge storm. They are now redesigning stronger stakes, plus glow-in-the-dark features.

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