February 21, 2007: Wow—Fashion Week—Last week in New York, this week Milan, next week Paris.... Sounds exciting, right? Yawn. Oh, sorry... I am just so unimpressed by what passes for style on the runways these days—me... and about 97 million other American women.
Don't get me wrong. I love fashion. And women all over this country love fashion—clothes in beautiful colors, fabulous fabrics, the shapes and silhouettes, the style, the drape, the line, the handbags, the shoes, the accessories—what's not to love?
Across the nation, $131 billion was spent on women's apparel in 2005 (that's more than the gross domestic product of Singapore, New Zealand, or the United Arab Emirates), with the average household shelling out $1,178 on annually.
Women love fashion. But fashion doesn't love them. Not real women, at least. Women love beautiful clothes. But most women aren't supermodels—in fact, the average American woman is 5'4", weighs 140 lbs., and wears a size 14. So most American women find the fashion industry a bit out of touch.
Who is in touch with the millions of American women with billions of dollars to spend? Savvy companies like Target, Chico's, and J.C. Penney, that's who.
Target has recognized that fashion is not just for the elite, for the super skinny, for the runways in New York and Paris. The masses—the millions of American women who shop at discount and department stores every day—want fashion too.
Target has elevated itself and generated phenomenal growth by redefining itself as an icon of affordable style and design. First Michael Graves housewares, then Todd Oldham home furnishings, now Target has joined forces with Isaac Mizrahi to bring affordable runway fashion to every woman.
Marti Barletta is the founder and CEO of consulting think-tank The TrendSight Group (www.trendsight.com) and the author of PrimeTime Women: How to Win the Hearts, Minds, and Business of Boomer Big Spenders (Jan. 2007) and Marketing to Women: How to Understand, Reach and Increase Your Share of the World's Largest Market Segment (Dec. 2002). Reach her at email@example.com.
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