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.

Jeffrey Edelman, analyst with UBS Warburg, said exploring new avenues is sound business, especially since VF is also taking a hit from Kmart’s store contraction. “Any company has to be on the search for new channels of distribution for new product, so I would not say this is at all out of the ordinary,” he noted. “This is not a business in which you can wait around to see what happens.”

Sally Schaadt, an analyst with Fourteen Research Corp., said: “I suspect Target has done its homework and knows specifically what it wants. Certainly then, VF would be the vendor of choice when it comes to a denim line.”

Currently, Target’s denim business revolves around trendy junior offerings from Mossimo and, to a lesser degree, more Americana-casual stylings from Cherokee. On recent visits to local stores, Target was notably lighter on denim than its competitors.

With Blue Jeans’ arrival, the retailer is taking another step in what appears to be a reshuffling of its contemporary business, which has been driven by plain-Jane career basics from Mossimo and private label Merona. Isaac Mizrahi is expected to introduce his exclusive line of updated basics in August. The department is also stocking a new novelty dress line — dubbed Faith, Love, Passion — as evidenced by merchandise in Massachusetts stores.
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