Preppy clothes brand Vineyard Vines is the latest brand to launch a limited-edition range for big-box US retailer Target.

Vineyard is one in a long line of brands to collaborate with the chainstore – Target has now hosted link ups with more than 80 fashion brands, dating back to the early 2000’s, often, Vox reports, punching well above its weight.

It has collaborated with highly respected names such as Alexander McQueen and Proenza Schouler, generating huge excitement along the way – more recently collaborations with Missoni and Lilly Pulitzer crashed servers and caused in-store chaos. As with all these collaborations, once the stock is sold, it’s sold.

The secret to creating the sales buzz is that each collection creates an opportunity for consumers to own an item from a brand they might not normally be able to afford.

The brands, in turn, get a big boost of publicity. There is also huge novelty, as Vox points out, in using big-box stores, and so being able to buy designer fashion alongside mundane items, like, say, light bulbs. Target, Vox says, also perfected the art of selling FOMO – fear of missing out.

Professor of retail practice at Syracuse University Amanda Nicholson says Target’s high-low collaboration concept was actually pioneered by perfumers years before – you may not have the cash for a Chanel jacket, but you may well be able to pay for Chanel No. 5 perfume.

“You get the ability to participate in the dream of a designer purchase without the designer price point,” Nicholson says.

For the designers and Target itself, the collaborations are essentially marketing projects. It’s a USP for Target and brings shoppers into the stores. And the collections are so small there’s hardly any financial risk for the fashion brands, says Nicholson. Profits directly from the link ups are not really the aim – the point, she says, is to get people talking.

Designers, Vox points out, often have restricted marketing budgets and a tightly select customer base, so putting their name in front of a much wider audience is not something they can usually afford alone. Due to the fact that it’s time-limited and the range is a one-off, there’s little risk of brand dilution.

“[Brands] completely broaden their brand awareness,” says Nicholson. “And there’s a possibility that some younger customers will grow up and be able to afford the real thing one day,” she adds.

Sourced from Vox; additional content by WARC staff