Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Free For All

Phat Loot: the long knit/crocheted gloves I was coveting and a pair of satin-ey lounge pants I didn't know I wanted until I saw them.

I turned on the television this morning to one of the network's top news stories: yesterday's unprecedented, all-day crash of the retail giant Target's website. The reason? The arrival in its stores of the most highly anticipated, coveted, and hyped partnerships between Target and a high end designer since the retailer debuted its Design For All concept back in the late 1990s with a Michael Graves-designed set of housewares.

Since then, Target has partnered with everyone from Anna Sui to Converse, Alexander McQueen to Rodarte. Always limited editions, although some designers (like the make-up maven Sonia Kashuk, and American apparel manufacturer Mossimo) have remained perennials. Anyone who has ever shopped target most likely has one of Mossimo's colorful t-shirts or Kashuk's brilliant eye colors, perfumes, or make up brushes. Even better, they didn't go into hock to purchase them, either.

But I'm not sure anyone was prepared for the Missoni frenzy. An Italian knitwear design house started in Italy in 1953 by husband and wife Ottavio and Rosita Missoni, the line is famous for the quality of its wools and fabrics and crazy patterns and colors. To own a piece of Missoni is to own true luxury, and I don't mean that in a cost-a-million-dollars-worth-of-luxury kind of way. What I mean is, you own something that is handmade by a small, privately held family company that still retains tight control over quality and production, and still cares that it's providing it's customer with something beautiful to wear. (However, the the lower-priced M Missoni line currently licenses to LVMH, so don't buy M.)

When I heard back in the spring about this partnership, you can bet I calendared the debut date. Those who pooh-poohed me and said, "It's Missoni For Target, not the real thing,"' can suck it. I say: what's the difference? Why can't a $54 cardigan with a cool pattern and tight weave be any less purchase-worthy than one that costs 10 times that?

So when Chickory called yesterday morning while I was on my way into town, breathless with excitement and quickly giving me the low down on the goods, it was all I could do to make it through my early morning appointment before hitting the closest Target at 10am. Which I did. In spite of the slim pickings, I picked up some great stuff, including this rockin' knit cardigan whose Navajo/Art Deco pattern fits right into my 1970s-inspired fall wardrobe. I was exclusively scouting for clothing, one of the silk scarves, and the laptop cover. The housewares, while beautiful, I stayed away from. I have way too many fine and fun bowls, vases, dish sets, etc., both modern and vintage, and all I needed was to come home with yet another piece to find space for. However, anyone who needed to furnish their baths, beds, and kitchens would have found some really great pieces.

While waiting for a dressing room, I listened to the sales gals' tales of woe: of people lined up at 4am to get in. Of checkers ringing up bills in the thousands of dollars. Of people snatching items out of other shoppers' carts. Mad house, frenzy, not prepared, were constant phrases. But my first thought was: right on.

With all the complaints about the economy these days, these girls are looking this gift horse in the mouth? I wanted to smack them. Yes, I'm an unabashed Material Girl. That's because we're a Material Nation. A Material World. A Material SPECIES. What would we be doing if we didn't conceive, create, manufacture, distribute, and sell? Lay on a beach all day somewhere frolicking with dolphins and making love not war? The problem with that is, someone eventually wants a cute-looking bikini and goes looking for someone to make it, and then someone else begins to control the distribution of coconuts and palm fronds. And there we are: right back where we started.

So I say: all hail the free market. It may not be perfect, but it's the best idea for an economy that we've got.


Anonymous said...

How sure are you about that "nice family who retains tight-control over hand-made products and doesn't use impoverished thirdie laborers" part of your opus?

moi said...

Troll: The line for Target is manufactured in Indonesia. That fact, along with the use of inexpensive cotton yarns and synthetic materials, keeps the price point down in the Target range. No one is under any assumption that this line is anywhere near the quality of Missoni's high end line. Which, by the way, is manufactured in Italy and around the world, including the third world.

I didn't say they don't use impoverished third world laborers; besides, I don't know if the word impoverished is even applicable anymore. Seems to me these folks are having the last laugh. If we want made in first world goods, we in the first world have to be willing to pay for them.

Jenny said...

I missed the whole thing. *sigh* love reading the background of Missoni and Target's history with bringing affordable designs to the masses. Don't kill me, but at first I thought it was a pasta.

we friends no more? bwahahahah.

I'm not a fan of the zig zag in large sweaters, but I do love the scarf Koby is sporting and I'm glad you and Chickie were there at opposite sides of the country to give us reports. As for the second market on Ebay? I think it's fine. There are those that don't want to stand in line at 4:00 a.m. and are willing to pay more. Not me. As you said, I have enough bowls/housewares to last me a lifetime.

chickory said...

wonderful post. The housewares for me were the opposite of what I like which is vintage mish mash dishes. BTW, the farm pitcher looks great at the cabin! I did like the dress i bought and had it fit, I wouldve kept it. Glad I only got up at 7;15 to be there by quarter til. Ive never done any shopping frenzy day until tuesday - and I thought it was hilarious - for entertainment value alone it was worth it.

to trolls point: its all multinational. If you tried to avoid 3rd world labor you would be wearing hempsacks from new hampshire and dickies. GIven an option to buy american that actually looks good - i would happily.

@boxer LOL there was a bit of Charlie Brown to some of the pieces, for sure. But I thought other pieces were very cool indeed. And i thought the quality while not regulation Missoni, was very upscale for Target. Its a slam dunk in marketing and I see a lot of merit to the whole upscale desgin to the masses. I thought the stuff for children was best though.

Like Moi said, the way to go with this stuff is to incorporate a few pops of the line into your everyday wear. NYC 2012!!! I probably wont have any clothes budget as I am a sukka for street art!

chickory said...

another thought: you know what is interesting? the anger directed at the resellers. I get the frustration. But if a wall street commodity trader/buyer did the same thing, hed be the brilliant one who capitalized on the trend. If target had ordered enough to ensure every man woman and child a share of missoni then you would have mossimo.

moi said...

Boxer: I don't have a problem with the second tier markets, either. When you buy a good, you're not buying a license for its use; you're buying that thing in its entirety. Which means you're free to do with it as you wish after you've paid for it.

But there's a rising tide against this thought, especially in the perfume market. Used to be, one could sell decants, i.e., small, decanted amounts of anywhere from 2-10ml, of perfumes on eBay to customers who didn't want to spring for the cost of a full bottle, or who wanted to sample a perfume for a while before committing to a full bottle. The big perfume conglomerates protested that the practice was "copyright" infringement and pressured eBay to ban decant sellers, which it eventually did several years ago, in spite of the argument that once you buy something, you're free to do with it as you wish. An argument I happen to agree with. Many of those decanters have now started their own businesses, but it's only a matter of time before the perfume conglomerates shut them down, too.

Chickory: I'm happy to buy American when the quality warrants it. And I am heartened by some American-based fashion lines' attempt to return manufacturing to 7th Avenue. That would be great, and I'd be more than happy to pay top money for high quality that will last forever.

P.S. Everytime you start to reach for the Am Ex at an art vendor, think: Art or NYC? Starting after I take back half my Missoni haul, I'm going to have to do the same thing.

moi said...

Chickory: You are exactly right. If people were so all fired up to have this stuff, they could have lined up at the stores with the rest of us. If not, too bad, so sad. It's not like we're dealing with air and water here, right? And besides, this has been happening since the beginning of Target's Design For All concept was launched. Who was stupid enough to think Missoni, of all lines, would be the exception?

Aunty Belle said...

I did pull up the rear at mah local
TarZhay about 5pm--after judgin' the HARDEST ever haiku week. Anyhoo, I saw a few remainders--cosmetic bags, a hairband, the ballet flats, an a mis-sized hoodie cardigan.

Can I jes' say somethin'? Missoni/ Target engineered a marketin' coup. Fer Pete's sake, they created a H U G E demand, an admit it ladies, NObody's body needs that much zigzag. An' definitely not in purple ZZ's

Moi--ya kiddin' me? That ebay story on the decanters? no! No an' NO! Under what rule is what I do wif' a product that is MINE any bidness of the vendor? Why, I reckon that the decanters is doin' the parfumerie industry a favor--folks who would NEVER pay full boat for full size scents now will try it--may like it an buy it--why ain't that a good thang?

moi said...

Aunty Yes, can you believe the whole decant kerfuffle? Ridiculous. That's how I buy perfumes: I buy samples, fall in love with one or two, then buy the entire bottle. Stooooooopid perfumer conglomerates. Stooooooopid eBay.

chickory said...

I can think of a situation about once you buy something you can do whatever. You could not buy a painting from me and then make prints of it to sell. The purchase of art does not transfer the ownership of image to the buyer. I write that on my policy page. I do SELL copyrights though and then I dont care.

Jenny said...

Chickie - your work is one of a kind and you haven't authorizied it for mass production. What the hate at resellers? They aren't selling knock offs, they are selling product they bought, marked up and are now selling. Hell, just today I bought $900.00 worth of extrusion schnizz for SLT and I'm marking it up and selling it to them for about $1500.00. What's wrong with that? Pffffft. That's called distribution. However, in regard to perfume... that's interesting, because it's being repackaged and sold not as the original manufacturer intended.

czar said...

Following all this with detached ignorance . . . my default position.

@Boxer: "Hell, just today I bought $900.00 worth of extrusion schnizz for SLT and I'm marking it up and selling it to them for about $1500.00." You've lost me again. No need to explain, though. Your aura of mystery is quite appealing, but then again, knowing of your colonoscopy may have been a bit much. :-)

moi said...

Chickory: Yes, you are right, and you point out that there is most certainly a difference between resale and theft. That's why we have rigorous copyright laws that protect works of art and their creators (painters, movie makers, novelists, journalists, etc.) against unauthorized reproduction. These laws actually came about as incentives for artists to create and consumers to purchase and I agree with them wholeheartedly.

After all, I work similarly to you: I sell either one-time rights (the rights revert back to me after first use) or full rights (rights revert to the client), but the difference is that once someone buys your painting, they can't reproduce it, but they can re-sell it. That can't happen with the other arts. A magazine cannot pubish an article of mine without either my permission or the permission of the person to whom I sold all rights.

Likewise, all the eBayers selling Missoni have every right to resell what they purchased; they do not, however, have the right to reproduce those items in some basement somewhere, slap a Missoni label on it, and represent that item as authentic.

And that's what the perfume companies were arguing: that perfume is like a movie or a novel. You are only purchasing the container in which that work is distributed, not the thing (the actual juice in the bottle) itself, which, as a work of art, cannot be resold. The decanters on the other hand made the claim that they were buying rights to the bottle and the juice inside (like, say, a bottle of wine or ketchup) and so were free to do with both as they saw fit. And they weren't reproducing it (which would be stealing), they were simply parceling out pieces of it, much like how a book, purchased one time, is loaned to various people, who don't pay for it, or the fact that it's legal to resell a book to a used bookstore. I tend to side with the perfumers in this regard.

Boxer: Right. You're buying MATERIALS, using them to make something else, and then selling that something else at a profit, the profit representing the cost of the intellectual and physical labor involved in making and distributing that thing.

Czar: It's called capitalism :o)

Jenny said...

actually, the items I bought were already made, I just marked them up and resold them to SLT (to Czar that's a high end kitchen supply store) What value did I add? I knew the supplier and sourced it for them. What I didn't do is steal the design and make it myself. I paid the right person for the product (just like people gave Target their money and then had the right to resell,)

to Czar - just be glad I didn't do and entire post on it! :-O

moi said...

Boxer: Gotcha. And, yes, you're still okey dokey in that regard :o)

czar said...

Moi: I understand the markup part, no problem. "Extrusion schnizz for SLT" -- when I don't understand three words in a four-word phrase, I start floundering.

LaDivaCucina said...

I love Missoni and thought this idea/collaberation with Target was brilliant. I liked the stuff from Isaac Misrahi too, a few years back. After all, why should a few rich women get access to all the great fashions? They NEED this market, don't you think?

Having said that, La Diva is not the kind of person to stand in line for're gonna hate me for saying this, but, if everyone else has it, I don't want it. Besides, zig zags don't wear well on one with big ta-tas! The kitchen stuff however...that's another story!

PS: What about that little Chinese queen complaining about women's breasts on Project Runway last night? Wanted to SLAP him!

fishy said...

Here is a quote from a seminar I attended once. The international guru on the business of design said:

"If you fail to retain anything else from this seminar remember this absolute:

If you buy it for a dollar and sell it for two you are going broke".

The purpose of business is money.
It does not matter if you are selling medical skill or religion or reselling Missoni or perfumes. The purpose is to make money.

If I were a young stay at home Mom trying to figure out how to start my Santa shopping or start college funds ...if I could do it by reselling Missoni .... I would.

moi said...

La Diva: Bwahahahahaha to the Queen remark! Some of that kitchen stuff is really nice. The swirly glass bowls, especially.

Fishy: Amen :o)

Jenny said...

I officially heart Fishy.

Helloooo LaDiva!!!

Jenny said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jenny said...

CZAR - oh good lordy my dear friend; Sur La Table..... silly little sign holders that tell you how much you're over paying for the product. They are molded, as in popped out of a machine (rather than made by hand) somewhere NOT in the USA but yet, we 'mericans are still able to suck a litle profit from them

czar said...

@Boxer: Don't feel obligated to explain everything to me. You'll end up at your next-door neighbor's place begging for relief, and you also won't have time for anything else.

(Sorry I missed your MMJ post, by the way. Very interesting.)

Big Shamu said... But if the clothes made you happy.

chickory said...

Oliver is project runway GOLD> I was laughing hy head off at his calm little statements like "this f*cking dress"
he is so funny -its that quiet delivery. "im fighting for my life here!" that makes it great. He is the opposite of most queens on there - i love his quiet despair. wonderful character. I cant stand that other guy -with the coiff and the waxed eyebrows...I think he may have won - but Victor should have.

moi said...

Boxer: Nothing is overpriced at Sur La Table :o)

Czar: Now that you have an intern, you can pass all those kinds of tasks on to her.

Shamu: Aw, come on. You know you want a little zig zag in your life.

Chickory: I call him Pucci Pucci Guy. And I want to smack him with a wet noodle. Oliver is priceless in his methodical seriousness. Which shouldn't make him reality television gold, but it does.

Big Shamu said...

Having now seen some of it in person and then checking the nearly total out of stock web site, I'd say I wouldn't mind the men's brown button sweater and some of the black and white dinnerware. Just a little too busy for my taste. I do commend Target for creating crazed Christmas shopping fever in the middle of September.

Pam said...

I totally missed the craze but this might have enticed me in for sure. I have always loved these patterns and colors and never even bothered to look to buy because, well, money. Some of the things I saw posted looked really cute. I can see where someone might go overboard with the use of it in decorating but would love to have a few touches of it somewhere. With success like this, you can bet Targay will be replenishing, eh?