Target unveils winter wear as retailer seeks to bolster Canadian fashion profile

TORONTO – Target Canada brought a dizzying display of winter weather styles to the runway on Tuesday, part of the retailer’s plans to bolster its presence on the homegrown fashion scene while continuing to make improvements to its business operations.

“Style is really kind of key to our DNA,” Livia Zufferli, vice-president of marketing at Target Canada said in an interview prior to the retailer’s show at Toronto’s World MasterCard Fashion Week.

“We’ve been in Fashion Weeks in the past — both in Toronto and in Montreal — so it is really key to what we’ve been doing. And we’re going to continue to amp up that focus on style and deliver to our guests what we believe is great design, great style at prices I don’t think they can find elsewhere for the quality and the style that they’re getting here.”

The Minneapolis-based discount giant has faced its share of challenges since its March 2013 launch north of the border, initially faced with high expansion costs and disappointing sales as Canadian shoppers complained about near-empty shelves and notably higher prices than at U.S. Target stores.

Target Canada recently announced a number of initiatives aimed at helping to boost performance, including a long-term partnership with Canadian interior designer Sarah Richardson and expansion of its Beaver Canoe home decor offerings.

Zufferli said the retailer’s number 1 focus is still on operations. She added that they’re continuously making improvements to ensure products are stocked on shelves. “We’re making that progress, and we’re happy about the progress that we’re making.”

Under the Fashion Week tents at David Pecaut Square, the focus was on styles for men, women and children for the chilly months. Canadian supermodel Coco Rocha sat front row for the splashy presentation, complete with a red-carpeted runway and illuminated bull’s-eye logos.

The presentation showcased what Zufferli described as “cosy Canadiana chic” with items like plaid shirts and tuques interspersed with European-inspired looks.

Cheery models showcased a vast array of cold weather wear with pretty, patterned cardigans, faux furs, quilted coats, bomber jackets and blazers. Styles for women encompassed the ultra-feminine — like sheer blouses, slinky lace camisoles and jumpsuits — alongside more edgy, embellished options like leather studded gloves.

The retailer also displayed a selection of looks from its upcoming collaboration with Toms: a limited-edition line of home goods, apparel, accessories and shoes which is launching next month. And even Target’s bull terrier mascot, Bullseye, took a turn on the runway for the show’s finale.

Target is well-known for its high-profile designer collaborations with top labels like Jason Wu and Missoni, and they’ve also brought Canadian talents into the fold for similar partnerships. Toronto-based Sarah Stevenson designed a line for select Target stores across Canada while Montreal-based designer Melissa Nepton did the same for the retailer’s Quebec-based stores.

“We are looking at fostering that Canadian talent as well, in addition (to) supplementing the broader North American partnerships that we’re bringing to the market,” Zufferli said.

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