Top designers make lines for Target, Wal-Mart

By Angela Loiacono

Fashion lines from well-known designers don’t normally fly off the runway and land in your local Target store. And your normal quick stop at Wal-Mart for some groceries doesn’t normally send you home with a trendy, fashionable outfit.

But times are changing, and many renowned fashion designers are designing new, low-cost lines to fill the aisles of these local stores, and they seem to be gaining popularity.

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In an effort to compete with other retail outfits and focus on trendy women’s fashion, several stores that pride themselves in low-cost items, including Target and Wal-Mart, have begun to work towards more fashionable women’s apparel.

Sure enough, right in between the sweatpants and sportswear, strapless dresses and cropped jackets filled the racks of the Champaign Target, 2102 N. Prospect Ave. Tags with the name Luella and the outline of the Big Ben clock tower in London seem to be everywhere.

“Lately, (Target) has become very fashionable,” said Alison Schmitt, senior in FAA, as she browsed in Target. “Their advertising has really been good. They’re ads have really stepped up a notch … For the first time, I’m kind of wandering in and considering their stuff.”

Target kicked off its Go International program by featuring the fashion line of designer Luella Bartley of London. Luella’s line adds a funky edge to some classic pieces, according to Target spokeswoman Brie Heath.

The promotion will feature several foreign fashion designers and allow them to sell their lines at 1,400 Target stores for a period of 90 days each. Target describes the Go International line as affordable fashion from designers around the world. The different lines are expected to appear in stores through the summer.

“(Go International) was meant to introduce our guests to a whole new set of designers,” Heath said. “It brings something unique and different.”

Top designers Isaac Mizrahi and Mossimo Giannulli also have low-cost lines at Target that have proved to be popular. Mizrahi began to make a name for himself in the fashion world back in the 80s, and he continues to be popular at the stores. He has brought his fashion sense that has appeared on runways into Target stores. Heath argues that Mizrahi’s partnership with Target has brought him to a whole new level. Giannulli’s style, which first appeared in surf shops, has also proven to be popular at the stores.

“There were days . when people would just get a T-shirt from Target, but now I think we’re a destination for people looking for a great design but conscious of the money they spend,” Heath said. “We’ve carved ourselves out as an up scale discount retailer.”

Wal-Mart has also been making strides in their women’s apparel. Last year the store introduced an urban fashion line called Metro 7 in an effort to appeal to the fashion-minded woman.

“We launched Metro 7 as very fashion forward for the customer who has an urban sensibility and is interested in being on trend when it comes to fashion,” said Linda Blakely, spokeswoman for Wal-Mart.

The Metro 7 line, which offers a low-cost, trendy option for women, has several different pieces that range from $9.99 to $29.99. The store came up with several customer profiles and tried to accommodate the fashion needs of such women.

“Our goal was to bring the inspiration you see in key markets and the runways and interpret that quickly for the customer and offer it up in this line,” Blakely said.

Wal-Mart has also worked its way up in the fashion world by advertising in what many call “the fashion bible.” Spreads in both the September and November issues of Vogue magazine displayed how serious Wal-Mart is about pulling the fashion-conscious women into their store for more than just groceries. And while never confirmed or commented on by either party, rumors surrounding Wal-Mart teaming up with Tommy Hilfiger have floated around the fashion world for some time now.

Even the popular H&M; clothing store has jumped on the bandwagon of pulling in top designers. The Swedish retailer sold lines done by Karl Lagerfeld in 2004 and featured the work of English designer Stella McCartney in a line that debuted Nov. 10, 2005.

These low-cost lines, that can be conveniently found at local stores, have many women finally being able to get the trendy, fashionable clothes that see on the runway while they are out picking up groceries and running errands.