Stripes, Not Hype


The sell-out frenzy of Target’s Missoni line is still a retail bungle, with online orders delayed for weeks and tales of in-store tussles over tights. Bargain shoppers love these hyped designer collaborations; they allow us to dress Italian for $34.95. But the Target-Missoni mash-up may indicate that, despite the stock being snapped up within hours, the brand’s reputation is slipping.

Today, independent, family-run fashion houses like Missoni are as scarce as the knitwear that caused Target.com to crash. In this case, the family business would rather sell out to Target than Gucci Group, even if it means compromising quality (the styles weren’t made in Italy). Is Missoni for Target a sign that the house will cash in on any opportunity? First Target, then French conglomerates?

Designers’ cashing in via big-box stores or big business won’t weaken design, but it changes their charm. No more, “Fabrizio supplied us leather for decades!” Family houses (Ferragamo, Versace) remain like old city states, protecting the town piazza and spirit. You won’t find that at Target. For real Italian, try Filene’s Basement, where past-season Missoni jeans sell for $25. You won’t even have to wait in line!

Katherine Boyle reports on arts, museums and culture for the Style section.

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