On Target

Ok, here's an odd one... WWD reported that Target and Barney's are teaming up on a brand/marketing initiative. Yes, that's the same Target that sells everything from kids' underwear, to Weber grills, to eggs, and the same Barney's that sells Prada. Now there's an eye-grabber.

Even more interesting is that Target is the one originating the content. Target is trading up in prestige, and Barney's is trading down big time. This is a limited run, limited distribution campaign on Target's exclusive Rogan Gregory line. It's not a big revenue event by any means. But it shows a couple of interesting longer-term trends.

1) The 'content vs distribution' play in this space is dying a slow death. No longer can Wall Street box these companies into 'retailers vs brands.' The premium brands are earning the right to become retailers, and as we see with Target, the more successful retailers are earning the right to be viewed as brands in their own right.

2) Owning the consumer relationship matters now more than ever. Both our opinion and fact-based analysis on the secular landscape for apparel is not for the faint of heart. As the global supply chain is squeezed and stress-tested to a degree greater than at any time in history, it is the brands and retailers that are pushing the envelope with innovation -- both in product and marketing -- that will come out ahead.

3) Those that are not investing today in order to stay above water tomorrow will sink at a rate faster than they can lower their own expectations (never mind the Street's).

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