Over the weekend, Target launched its latest designer collaboration series, the Target Collective, a U.S.A.-made collection of men’s clothing, accessories, and stationery from six cult brands available exclusively on Target’s website. The Minneapolis-based company seems to be taking notes from right in its own backyard—the goods would look right at home at North Loop shops such as Wilson & Willy’s, Askov Finlayson, and MartinPatrick3 (not to mention the long-running Northern Grade men’s market). The move isn’t all that surprising, considering its recent collaborations with Minnesota-based heritage brand Faribault Woolen Mill and local style blogger Kate Arends, whose blog Wit & Delight celebrates made-in-the-U.S.A. goods and a design-oriented aesthetic.
Unlike its previous designer collaboration lines, this one spans multiple designers and brands, each creating a limited series of products instead of full product runs. The male-focused line includes products from American-made manufacturers Billykirk, Owen & Fred, Taylor Stitch, Locally Grown, Terrapin Stationers, and Minnesota’s own Duluth Pack. Unlike most designer collaboration lines that offer designer names for less, the products for sale on Target’s site appear to be priced the same. For instance, Duluth Pack’s Scout Bag is priced at $115 to $140 on both Target‘s and Duluth Pack‘s websites and appear to be identical products—though Duluth Pack offers more color options than the Target Collective. So what’s the impetus for the savvy shopper to shop the Target site?
Despite the apparent quality of the Target Collective goods, there are some inherent conflicts in play. On one hand, it’s great exposure for these independent brands. (Who wouldn’t want to get their name and products in front of Target’s legion of loyal shoppers?) It could be argued, though, that Target is diluting the American-made ethos of heritage style with this series, borrowing the made-in-the-U.S.A. tagline without itself being a company that prides itself on American manufacturing or craftsmanship (of course, most of its goods are made in China). And while it’s a pretty naked attempt on Target’s part to cash in on the so-called “lumbersexual” trend, it remains to be seen whether their customers will buy into their narrative.
The introduction of the series is part of an ongoing effort by Target to introduce more sustainable, organic, and natural products. Last year, it introduced “Made to Matter—Handpicked by Target,” a collection of products from 16 brands such as Burt’s Bees and Annie’s Homegrown spanning beauty, grocery, healthcare, baby, and household categories. But after the recent controversy surrounding Target, Wal-mart, GNC, and Walgreens, in which the New York Attorney General charged that they were selling bunk herbal supplements, it’s clear this move toward sustainable and organic products is purely a business decision spurred on by consumer interest—and not one necessarily with its customers’ best intentions in mind. It remains to be seen whether the Target Collective is just an example of a big-box retailer jumping on a trend bandwagon, or part of the corporation’s new, sustainably driven philosophy.
But as Minnesotans, we have so many great, independent businesses selling American-made goods right in front of us. So why not let Target do what they do best—selling cheap-chic fashion, face wash, cute patio dinnerware, party supplies, and Michael Graves (R.I.P.) stainless steel colanders all under the same roof.
With that being said, here’s a sampling of some of the Target Collective products available:
Taylor Stitch Men’s Washed Indigo 3 Button Hooded Sweatshirt, $98 @ target.com
Terrapin “GOOD LUCK WITH THAT” Notecard Set with Camo Liner – 6 Pack, $18 @ target.com
Locally Grown Men’s LG Arrows T-Shirt, $32 @ target.com
BILLYKIRK Bottle Opener Keychain, $24.99 @ target.com
BILLYKIRK Carryall Frame Bag, $119.99 @ target.com
Owen & Fred “CREATE IT” Valet Tray, $35 @ target.com
Owen & Fred “YOU WILL FEEL GREAT” Laundry Bag, $35 @ target.com
Duluth Pack Growler Pack, $60 @ target.com
Duluth Pack Scout Bag, $115–$140 @ target.com
Now available at Target.com.