It's always aimed for A-listers who inspire rabid, lemming-like loyalty, instead of seeking out legit designers as Target does (the one exception being its current activewear line from Norma Kamali). So Target has come to be regarded as the more fashion-savvy store.
But here's where Wal-Mart one-ups Target: While Target may have the market cornered on supermarket couture, it doesn't bother producing celebrity or designer lines for that indefatigable shopping class: teenyboppers.
The Miley news left me thinking: why doesn't Target try to compete with Wal-Mart here? There are so many options for great collaborations. Let's look at a couple.
- KIRA PLASTININA: If Target wants to enter the juniors game while staying true to its designer-based DNA, who better than 17-year-old Kira Plastinina to kick off the effort? Plastinina is a Russian wunderkind whose billionaire father thought so highly of her bubblegum pouf skirts and doodle-scrawled hoodies that he decided to make her a worldwide brand. It worked -- for a while. But the recession claimed Plastinina's U.S. business -- 10 of her 12 U.S. stores closed early this year -- and an invite from Target would set the stage for a stateside comeback.
- TAYLOR MOMSEN: Target could be tempted by Momsen for two reasons. The 15-year-old actress is a tabloid staple and one of the stars of "Gossip Girl," which showcases more over-the-top fashion than any other show currently on television. Furthermore, Momsen's character, Jenny Humphrey, is a budding fashion visionary, which gives Momsen design cred in the eyes of teenagers, if not the world at large. And Momsen has proven to be an off-screen trendsetter as well -- just don't let your kids copy her eyeliner.
- SELENA GOMEZ: Sixteen-year-old Gomez, Disney's pop heiress to Cyrus, is the obvious best choice. As an analyst once explained it to me, Wal-Mart has always had the preferred relationship with Hannah Montana -- so to mollify Target, Disney gifted them official-retailer status for the Camp Rock franchise, which stars Gomez, Demi Lovato, and the ubiquitous Jonas Brothers.
Target has indeed enjoyed some Camp Rock exclusives -- the stars even did some back-to-school commercials -- but since then, I've seen Camp Rock stuff popping up at Wal-Marts everywhere. And the Jonas boys' new clothing line, which will also retail at Sears, JC Penney and Kmart, will be on shelves by the fall. (Note to seventh-grade boys everywhere: I promise you, those shrunken sweater vests will not translate well to your school wardrobe, and could result in devastating drops in social status.)
But I digress. Gomez stands apart from her Camp Rock comrades as the only true Cyrus peer and, more importantly, a Disney princess whose star is still on the rise, not at a full burn (Cyrus) or on the fade (Jonases, they say). Bonus: There's also a rumored Selena-Cyrus feud. Maybe Target could trademark those TEAM DEMI AND SELENA tees.