Is Target Losing Its Cachet?


The president and C.E.O. of Target, Gregg Steinhafel, fielded question after question about his company’s $150,000 donation to an extremist right-wing group at Target’s annual shareholder meeting yesterday. Several of Target’s biggest investors, including some large pension funds, protested outside the meeting. Women’s Wear Daily reports that Steinhafel “sound[ed] embattled and annoyed” by the questioning. “I think we’ve sufficiently addressed that topic,” Steinhafel replied to an investor who asked how Target could have “such an enormous blind spot” as to not research the extremist anti-gay group, Minnesota Forward. “We listened, we evolved, we have the right processes,” continued Steinhafel. “Does anybody have a question related to our business that’s not related to political giving? I’d love to hear a question related to something else.” [WWD]
Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal has a long piece today that straight-up asks whether Target is “losing its cachet.” While sales of basic, unsexy items are relatively strong, sales of the slightly pricier and more “stylish” home goods and fashion items that Target has always relied upon for fat profits and to set itself apart from Wal-Mart are sluggish. Overall, the corporation’s same-store sales rose just 2% over last year during the first quarter. Analysts are concerned that Target, in aggressively expanding into razor-thin-margin grocery goods during the recession, may have attracted too many lower-income shoppers; Target, ahem, targets the slightly better-off folks who go in for some light bulbs and come out with a cute set of glassware or a nice beach towel. (The median household income of a Target shopper is still $60,000, which is higher than Wal-Mart‘s.) (Translation: oh noes, too many poor people are ruining Target!) And now that stores like Macy’s and J.C. Penney have their own limited-edition designer collaborations, Target has competition at the higher end, too. It’s strange (or not, considering this is the Journal) that this story doesn’t mention two things: the controversial political donations, and Target’s long (but recently wellpublicized) battles with the unions that would like to organize its underpaid workforce. (Working at Target, as we know, can be hell.) For people who think themselves politically liberal, Wal-Mart has earned a reputation as a union-busting, Main-Street-killing, profiteering corporate hydra, while Target has been considered a kinder, gentler, designer-y-er retail safe space. Perhaps it’s merely that calculus that’s changing, and that un-earned reputation that’s fading. [WSJ]

Juergen Teller shot none other than Helena Bonham Carter for Marc Jacobs‘ fall campaign. Look at her, wearing that weird apple-shaped hat thing. She looks awesome. [Telegraph]

Beyoncé, wearing Givenchy, is on the new cover of Dazed & Confused. [@susiebubble]

Women’s Wear Daily analyzes Anthony Weiner‘s outfit, body-snarks his “turtle neck.” We need a shower. [WWD]

Nancy Pelosi looked bloody amazing in vintage Thierry Mugler at a state dinner. [HuffPo]

Claudia Schiffer’s other cover of U.K. Harper’s Bazaar is also pretty cool. [DS]

  • When asked if sitting down in her Council of Fashion Designers of America awards studded thong was comfortable, Lady Gaga lied. [NYTimes]
  • Michael Bastian, after five consecutive CFDA nominations, finally won — during a year when he has yet to produce a collection for his namesake line. (Bastian bought back the rights to his license from former partner Brunello Cucinelli, and did not present a fall collection during the re-organization.) “To paraphrase Sandra Bullock,” said Bastian, “maybe I wore them down?” Robert Geller, who won the emerging award for men’s wear, is happy but isn’t setting his expectations too high. “It won’t double sales in a year or anything. It just doesn’t work like that. I think more stores will recognize the name and take a look at us. But it can take a season or two before stores make a commitment to take a collection in.” [WWD]
  • Christina Hendricks is the newest spokesmodel for Latisse, which gives us another excuse to link to this. [CM]
  • Perfume company Brand Sense is suing Britney Spears for allegedly cutting it out of a deal she made with Elizabeth Arden; now Britney is suing Brand Sense for allegedly holding onto millions in royalty payments owed her for months, and for not paying her interest. [TMZ]
  • The Sisters Kardashian say they want to open another Dash boutique in New York, this time on the Upper East Side. [P6]
  • Many black women are going online to find support, information and inspiration about stopping chemically relaxing their hair. Blogs and YouTube channels exist to share styling tips and sell products. (Or to show how to make your own: the Times reports “One video, about how to make hair conditioner with castor oil and aloe vera juice, got around a million hits.”) Attendance at the biggest natural hair beauty expo, in Atlanta, has grown from 6,000 in 2006 to nearly 50,000 this year. We’re kind of big fans of the blog Le Coil, which is full of pictures of all manner of lovely ladies with natural hair styles. [NYTimes]
  • Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks player with the very short hair, is the new spokesmodel for a line of men’s hair care products called Ultra Sheen. He will not be growing out his hair. [WWD]
  • The union that represents department store workers picketed Macy’s New York flagship yesterday. The union is renegotiating its five-year contract with the company, and it’s not going well: Macy’s wants to cut pension benefits for new hires, cut workers’ hours, and increase employee health care costs. During the quarter just ended, Macy’s turned a $122 million profit. Same-store sales rose by nearly 8% during the month of May. What, it’s a surprise to anyone that corporate America is greedy? [WWD]
  • The Gap says that the solution for sagging sales at its U.S. stores is simple: make those stores more like its overseas stores! See, apparently Americans have been short-changed, and foreign Gaps are these totally awesome magical places with clothes that actually fit in colors other than puce. Reports Women’s Wear Daily, “‘The U.S. stores buy superconservative,’ said one source formerly close to the business. ‘Gap stores overseas have more of a point of view. Jean fits can be ahead of the curve, and the stores sell more premium products.’ In the U.K., Gap has a cashmere program. ‘Gap in the U.S. never does that,’ the source said. ‘In Japan, the stores are immaculate and really creative. The visual standards are much higher.'” [WWD]
  • Man Compares Self To Jude Law, Faces Acute Swimsuit Buying Anxiety, Finds Sales Staff Only Moderately Helpful, Parts With $95, Goes To The Hamptons And Gets A Ticket For Illegally Camping On The Beach. Particularly horrifying sentence: “The store’s fitting mirror, unlike the ones at all the other stores I visited, faces out onto the street.” [NYTimes]
  • The Times reports that those caffeine-laced leggings that do not help any wearer lose weight are “selling like crazy.” [NYTimes]
  • Speaking of small pants, Hedi Slimane would like to remind the world that he basically invented skinny jeans: “I could do my own jeans line, for instance, because I have legitimacy in launching the skinny jeans in fashion, and jeans for me feel like a real noble item in fashion, a social territory almost. On the other hand, I don’t like the collusion between high fashion design and high street. You have to know where you stand. I belong to luxury fashion. That’s what I’ve always felt and embraced. I like the best quality, the best fabrics and the most creative field in fashion. I will stay consistent. I belong to this world.” Yes, by the way, this is Slimane’s most definite-sounding statement on the topic of his return to fashion design to date. Bust open that champagne. [Vogue UK]
  • Liam Gallagher‘s clothing line, Pretty Green, which we initially assumed was just a half-assed joke, is now like the best joke ever. Serious props to these guys for keeping it up. Liam has “hired” the Modfather himself, rock star Paul Weller, to be Pretty Green’s “creative director.” Weller has an unusually specific vision for the brand: “I guess my main design reference is somewhere between 1968 and 1970.” [Vogue UK]
  • The newly private company J. Crew had a moderately bad quarter. (It is obligated to publicly report results for the period despite being privately held because the buy-out took place mid-quarter.) Same-store sales fell 3% on the same period last year, and the company lost nearly $30 million. [WWD]
  • This is a public service announcement for anyone who might — for reasons we truly can’t fathom — want to become a model. In the past two weeks, the London agency Premier has heard from three aspiring models who had been approached by a scout who falsely claimed affiliation with the agency. Founder Carol White says: “Bogus model scouts are rife in the industry, it is essential that if a model is scouted he or she should always do their research and call the agency to check that the talent scout is in fact employed by them. They should also check that the agency is part of the AMA, and should never agree to meet a scout without confirming their identity with the agency first. A true model scout will never ask for money from you. Also always be wary of model scouts who claim to be scouting for a campaign. Scouts do not do this.” The AMA is the Association of Model Agents, a trade association for agencies based in the U.K. [Vogue UK]
  • Chris Benz, in giving advice to a 12-year-old who wants to break into modeling, says that he does not cast girls under 16 in his shows. [Fashionista]
  • Emanuel Ungaro, which has struggled financially and creatively in recent years (cf. hiring Lindsay Lohan as a creative director and closing stores), has a new C.E.O. Jeffry Aronsson previously worked at Donna Karan, Marc Jacobs, and Oscar de la Renta. [Vogue UK]
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