Gilt And Target Do The High-Low Dance

Of all of the mass retail chains, Target‘s sartorial offerings have always been the most stylish. With collections from top designers and, in general, a more fashion-savvy sensibility, the store has always been a source of good, cheap clothes.

But starting this Friday, Target will up its fashion ante (and its price points). WWD reports that by the end of the week, pieces from the store’s Go International collection will be on sale at Gilt, the high-end, members-only online sample sale. Shoppers will get earlier access to some of Target’s most anticipated partnerships for fall, including Mulberry handbags, John Derian home wares and Tucker clothing.

For Gilt, the move represents the start of a shift from high-end fashion to a price point that a wider variety of people are comfortable with, which is only going to mean more members, more clicks and more business as its offering gets more affordable. At a time when people have less money to spend, opening up its brand strategy to a few lighter wallets is a sound policy.

But while Gilt is moving to the lower end of the retail price point structure, Target is aiming higher. Its next designer collaboration, with Justin Timberlake‘s William Rast label, will cost a prettier penny than previous collections. Leather jackets for men and women go for $200, while jeans will be priced around $50. Target’s senior vice president of merchandising Trish Adams told WWD that the increase can be attributed to an increase in fabric prices over the last year.

We’ve been trying to prepare for the clothing price increase for a little while now, but we weren’t quite ready to see it happen at our favorite low-cost retailer. Where else are we going to get, say, a decent cotton suit for under $100, or create a last minute outfit out of the crumbs of our checking accounts at the end of the month? If we can’t rely on low-priced clothes in the designer collaborations anymore, can we still expect to see good prices in Target’s non-designer offerings? At this point, we’re willing to bet that those prices are going to start going north, too. Looks like the “pay less” part of it’s “expect more, pay less” message is getting a little less relevant as the economy gets back on its feet.

But maybe it will be worth it. Target is hosting its Kaleidoscopic Fashion Spectacular here in New York City tonight, which will show fall looks from Target’s in-house brands. And if the clothes are chic and still affordable, maybe we’ll be willing to pay a little more by the time they’re in stores.

[Image via WWD]

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