Monday, January 7, 2008

Specialty Stores on Target

I'm in New York, exhibiting the Corky & Company Winter 2008 collection, at the Children's Club wholesale trade show in the Jacob Javits Center. Four times each year, January, March, August and October, childrenswear manufacturers gather in an open venue to show their new collections to store owners & buyers. It's an exciting few days where I get quality time with my customers.

Today, Helene Fineberg, an executive with Earnshaws magazine, stopped by my booth with an editorial columnist and we were having a causal conversation about the boutique label childrenswear industry . For 90 years, Earnshaws has been the leading trade publication in my industry and over the last fifteen years they have given Corky & Company an enormous amount of editorial coverage for which I am extremely grateful.

Helene asked what was driving change in our industry and I quickly responded with one word 'Target.' It turns out Earnshaws has been doing research for an article about the impact of Target on the kids clothing market and I was quickly asked if I could be quoted. In two seconds we went from a casual conversation to can we go on the record.

As one of the nation's largest apparel sellers, Target raised the fashion - value bar to new heights and set a standard boutique label manufacturers must exceed to remain successful. In essence, the branded apparel manufacturers (ie. me) must provide products to specialty retailers which are cutting edge, fresh, novel, and at a price that screams value to the consumer.

Three years ago my customers rarely turned a tag over to look at price before they bought several thousand dollars worth of product because it was all about picking the right labels with the hottest, freshest looks, whether it be European or American. Today, however, the vast majority do what I call a 'fashion reality check' and broadly look at price points to see if the fashion is being provided at a good value.

This behavior has been extremely positive for specialty store owners because their product mix is still cutting edge, fresh and novel, but it is also represents a compelling value to the consumer. Specialty stores will never compete with Target on price, but with about 2,000 children's boutique label manufacturers pushing the fashion - value edge consumers will find a lot of extremely exciting fashion at moderate prices. Collectively we offer a product mix that could never be produced for the mass market.

Thank you Target, you made our industry change for the better!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I loved this one. Thanks for posting it and I'm going to check out your merchandise.