Target recently announced a collaboration with Vineyard Vines, a preppy New England brand known for its bold patterns and summer styles. Growing up in Massachusetts, I’ve always been familiar with the brand. The people who wear Vineyard Vines typically portray a certain image; an image of wealth and New England luxury. Now, that brand has a presence in Target, a combination that initially struck me as odd.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand that Target is a brand designed for everyone. They fuse affordability and fashion quite seamlessly, and I’ve always been a fan of Target. On the other hand, I don’t really see my lifestyle represented in the Vineyard Vines brand. They’re a higher-end brand and their price points surpass the prices of other clothing at Target. After all, the “Vineyard” in the brand name refers to Matha’s Vineyard where wealthy people vacation. The Kennedys and the Clintons had real estate here. Meanwhile, Target is a great place to furnish a college dorm or buy clothing at fast-fashion prices. This made me wonder who was actually benefiting from the collaboration.
Like many brands, Vineyard Vines has faced challenges due to the change in the retail climate, but their slowed growth hasn’t stopped the brand. They’ve continued to experiment with different sales strategies. Initially this would mean online sales, but it seems Target is the latest tactic in the brand’s experimentation.
From what I understand this was effective. The first day Vineyard Vines was available at Target many of their products were sold out both online and in stores. Clearly the partnership was effective in some regard, but I don’t think Vineyard Vines will be the long term winner in this collaboration.
This has bigger implications for Target, a brand who is built around affordability and style. Recently, Target has been experimenting with more collaborations and sponsored product lines. This pairing may be one of the their most notable, but I certainly don’t think it will be the last. Their goal is to lure niche markets into their store and have individuals with different interests shop at Target. More importantly, the Vineyard Vines collection was available online as well. As Target expands their online services, having high-profile products online will only attract more attention to these services.
It’s quite smart, especially for a brand who has a reputation for making people buy more than intended. We’ve all heard of people going into Target for paper towels and leaving with a shopping cart full of Fourth of July decorations. Especially when you consider the fact that Vineyard Vines represents a brand whose customers have higher incomes. They’re likely to go into a Target store and purchase more than just a Vineyard Vines tote bag.
For the Vineyard Vines, I have mixed feelings on the collaboration. It does make the brand more recognizable and there’s no doubt that this move will draw attention. However, it may not be a move that represents the brand. If we’re being honest, Vineyard Vines is a luxury brand. No one needs their products, and the more accessible they become, the less exclusive the brand becomes. Brands can lose their allure when everyone is wearing it, especially for a brand whose name pinpoints it to a specific location and lifestyle.
On the other hand, the collaboration offers more than just clothing. Pool accessories, beach gear, and yard games can all be found in Target covered in pink whales. There’s not enough space for all of this equipment in a standard Vineyard Vines retail store, but Target does have the space. Perhaps these items could have been offered on Vineyard Vine’s website, but it’s also a smart move to use Target as the middle man. For most people getting these larger items just became much easier.
I’m interested in this collaboration, and feel it represents progress for both brands. Retail is changing, and Vineyard Vines is trying to adapt to the times. Win or lose, I think this is a brave move for the brand.