Retail

Universal Thread Is Latest In Target’s Private Label Strategy

Beginning in February, Target will have a new lifestyle clothing brand for women featuring lots of denim and even lower prices than its current women’s apparel lines. The private label line, Universal Thread, will include tops, dresses, accessories and shoes priced between $5 and $39.99, retail news source RetailDIVE reported.

The assortment includes fashion and casual wear and ranges in size from 00 through 26W.

Why denim? Target executive vice president and chief merchandising officer Mark Tritton explained that, of 1,000 women surveyed, the most dreaded shopping endeavor among them was finding a new pair of jeans.

“Whether the rise was too long or the inseam was too short or the pair of jeans they wanted didn’t come in their size — finding the perfect fit for their body type was just too challenging,” Tritton said. “That’s a problem we wanted to solve.”

Target churned out private label brands all last year. In 2017, it announced plans for 12 new labels to be developed over the next 18 months, building on the success of 2016’s private label kids’ lines Pillowfort and Cat & Jack. Cat & Jack reportedly surpassed the $2 billion mark in 2017, making it one of Target’s biggest brands ever. Altogether, Target’s private labels make up around $26 billion in sales.

Merchandise differentiation has been a core strategy for the brand since losing a price war with Walmart in the 1980s. New private label lines are a clear effort to reinforce Target’s reputation as the home of “cheap chic” — from clothing to home décor.

The strategy has been working so far. As competition culls the weak in categories such as consumables and grocery, Target’s focus on merchandise differentiation has kept it afloat and bolstered margins.

Chief marketing officer Maya Mikhailov sees the private label trend as an extension of — or perhaps a return to — the company’s original brand promise.

“Target was always known for design, earning the moniker ‘Tar-zhay,’” Mikhailov said.

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