Target’s New Buddy: VF Places Lee Sub-Brand at Mass Retailer

In the continuing evolution of major brands going after the mass market, VF Corp.’s Lee brand has placed an exclusive line in Target Stores.

Target is now offering an exclusive Blue Jeans by Lee line

Target is now offering an exclusive Blue Jeans by Lee line.

Photo By WWD Staff

BOSTON — Target has snagged its own major jeans label.

In the continuing evolution of major brands grabbing a piece of the mass market, VF Corp. has placed a sub-brand of its Lee franchise at Target stores, WWD has learned.

While Levi’s Signature Brand is making its much-ballyhooed bow at Wal-Mart, Target and VF has been cooking up a launch of their own.

Blue Jeans by Lee, a new brand designed exclusively for Target by the Greensboro, N.C.-based denim manufacturer, is just hitting the floors at the discounter’s major-market stores.

“They just arrived last night,” said a store associate in the Los Angeles suburb of Commerce, Calif., adding the new brand offered blue and black denim priced at $19.99 with matching belts.

Both Target and VF declined to comment, but VF chairman and chief executive officer Mackey McDonald has been vocal about his plan to use acquisitions or launches to make up for lost shelf space at Wal-Mart. Referring to the Levi’s deal during a conference call in February, McDonald noted, “We do see an impact at least for the short term, but we have many new growth initiatives we’ll be launching in the coming weeks and months across our jeans brands.”

With Blue Jeans’ launch — and VF’s announcement last week of its intention to acquire Nautica for $585.6 million —McDonald has filled both bills.

According to sources close to the deal, the launch spans women’s, men’s, boys’ and girls’ wear. It will be sold in most of Target’s 1,107 stores, but will not be a large or elaborate offering, at least initially.

On the women’s side, Blue Jeans by Lee gives the Minneapolis-based retailer an updated, basics line for the 25- to 45-year-old contemporary customer. According to a source, the product will initially focus on mid-rise bottoms, offered in petite, medium and tall lengths and in a variety of washes.

In dubbing the new brand “Blue Jeans by Lee,” VF is trading on one of its well-established brands to create an aura of quality and familiarity in its new brand. The practice is already commonplace in better and upscale department stores. Multiple permutations of Ralph Lauren’s name, for instance, denote different price and customer bases, yet reference an overarching mood.
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