In case you live under some kind of Twitter-free rock, Target is launching a fashionable and affordable plus-size collection on Feb 22 much to the excitement of, well, pretty much everyone.
After what seems like mishap after mishap when it came to the store's relationship with its plus-size customers, it looks like the company is finally getting it right. Ava & Viv will be the first in-house style-driven collection the chain will carry not only online but in stores as well. The news has been met with much praise and approval, but it's admittedly difficult not to feel like this should have been a no-brainer for Target all along.
Of course, it's easy to assume that all of this stemmed from fashion blogger Chastity Garner's post heard 'round the web, declaring her "break up" with Target due to the lack of plus-size options as part of its designer collaborations.
But as Target spokesman Joshua Thomas told HuffPost Style, Garner simply made the decision to work with her even easier by writing that letter. "When we were thinking about how to up our ante when it comes to fashion in the plus-size market, one of the things we looked at was who plus-size women look to for information and inspiration. That brought us to certain bloggers, Chastity included. The day she initiated her boycott I picked up the phone and asked if we could simply talk about it. 'How about you don't break up with us, but instead you just kick us to the couch for a bit. I think you might end up wanting us back,'" he said he told her.
It's in the spirit of this freshness and honesty that Garner, along with fellow spokespeople Nicolette Mason and Gabi Gregg not only represent the brand and star in its look book but also talk about working together on it. Stacia Andersen, senior vice president of apparel and accessories at Target, who calls the launch a "huge opportunity" for the brand within the plus-size market, explained to HuffPost Style:
The bloggers have been unbelievably helpful to us. I like to say that nothing ever gets better if we think everything is perfect. We really wanted to bring them in because they have such strong opinions -- not only for their personal style but for their huge groups of followers. Reaching out to them was the best way to really get the voice of this customer, as opposed to asking thousands of people.
But what has their feedback sounded like? According to the bloggers, they didn't hold anything back, good or bad. "In terms of the clothing, we definitely have some likes and dislikes," Gregg said, adding, "we are open with Target about our feedback. The great part about the team there is that they want to hear it and genuinely want to use it."
We can all agree that this is great news for not only Target but for the fashion industry, too. Now more than ever, truly fashionable plus-size options are improving the shopping experience for women. And while the collection may not be for everyone, Mason explains why that's actually a good thing. "It's not so generic, and it's not going to please everyone. It's definitely for a specific girl, which is exactly what great design should be. It shouldn't be something that appeals to every person regardless of their personal taste or style. This is a true collection," she said.
Best of all, working with these bloggers humanizes Target in a way we haven't seen done by many other retailers, especially when it comes to the plus-size market. "People are going to talk to us in a different way they would a corporation or brand. They trust us. We're their peers, we shop the same way they do. It really personalizes the experience," Mason explained.
No matter how you feel about the collection, there's one thing all three bloggers (and we) can agree on, "it's all happening."
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.