Missoni for Target collection cleans out D.C. and New York stores, crashes Web site

September 14, 2011

Target has maintained its reputation as the cool off-price store with fashion and housewares collaborations with, among others, Michael Graves, Isaac Mizrahi, John Derian, Liberty of London and the late Stephen Sprouse.

At the Target store in Columbia Heights on Wednesday — barely 24 hours into what was supposed to be a multi-week event featuring the Italian fashion house Missoni — only four lonely pieces of clothing remained.

Mussed and unbuttoned on their hangers, the four corduroy jackets did not feature the company’s signature stripes and zigzags.

During an impromptu tour of the vestiges of the Missoni for Target collection, which debuted Tuesday to the delight of fashion-loving/deal-loving shoppers, Target manager Matt Roy pointed to the rack that held the jackets.

The $69.99 price tag dared shoppers who showed up late to take home their slice of the Missoni-for-Target pie. High-end department stores such as Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman sell Missoni-brand clothing for up to $8,000.

“That’s a fine jacket right there,” one woman mused to no one in particular as she pushed a cart down the aisle. Another woman stopped to look at it but didn’t try it on. The jacket featured thick ribbing and big buttons in a shade of green that would be rough on almost any complexion.

Some items, it seemed, not even a deep discount can save.

“I’m personally not real fashion-forward,” Roy said with a shrug. “I guess people like his stuff. Maybe he was on one of those fashion-design competition shows,” he guessed.

The “he” Roy referred to is, of course, one of Italy’s most beloved labels, a line of knitwear started by husband and wife team Rosita and Ottavio Missoni in 1953. The line was in its heyday in the 1970s but has seen a resurgence in popularity since Angela Missoni, Rosita and Ottavio’s daughter, took the helm as creative director of the brand.

Margherita Missoni, Angela’s daughter, took center stage earlier this year when she was named as the company’s accessories designer. Margherita is also the face of the Missoni for Target ad campaign and is plastered above now-empty racks.

Missoni for Target, the latest in a series of low-price collaborations with high-end designers including Zac Posen, Rodarte and Liberty of London, launched nationwide Tuesday morning. While the other collections had been successful, the popularity of Missoni’s collection was unprecedented both in stores and online.

Target’s Web site crashed several times Tuesday. The site was briefly back up early Wednesday, but crashed again at 6:30 a.m.; it was finally operational two hours later.

The hubbub was not unique to the online shop. In New York, the East Harlem store was stripped in 15 minutes, whereas the collection sold out at the Atlantic Avenue location in Brooklyn in about 10, reported Racked NY, a style and shopping Web site. Former Real Housewife Bethenny Frankel was reportedly among the shoppers, an estimated 200 of whom had lined up in Harlem by 7:30 a.m.

By comparison, the Columbia Heights location had a slow opening day.

On Tuesday morning, a swarm of shoppers queued up outside the sliding glass doors of the store. When the doors opened at 8 a.m., the shoppers made what Roy described as a “mad dash” through the store, scooping up knit dresses, dinner plates, child-sized leggings, patio sets, bicycles and more.

Within two hours, the racks and shelves had been swept mostly clean of thousands of pieces from the 400-item collection. The accessories section was “hit first and hit hard,” said Roy. Left behind early Wednesday in various departments was the random picture frame, suitcase, a single men’s cardigan sweater and the green corduroy jackets.

Target had planned to continue selling the line into October in its 1,700 stores nationwide, but that seems unlikely in light of this week’s sales. Parts of the collection — mostly home furnishings and other “random” pieces, according to Roy — will be replenished in stores. The women’s clothing, however, is not on the list for restocking, adding an element of exclusivity to what could otherwise have been just another discounted designer line.

“I don’t get it,” said Roy. “We did what we had to do in this store to prepare. We knew it would be popular. But I don’t know. Maybe I’m not cool enough to get it.”

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