Neiman Marcus and Target Team Up to Go After the Big Middle

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This Christmas you won’t have to travel to New York or Los Angeles to splurge on a designer dress or a new purse. You’ll find them just a few aisles away from the laundry detergent and the diapers–at Target.

The big-box retailer is teaming up with luxury department store Neiman Marcus to offer brand new pieces from 24 American designers, including Marc Jacobs and Oscar de la Renta. The clothes, geared specifically toward holiday shoppers looking to find a quality gift, will be priced from $7.99 to about $499.99, with most products coming in below $60.

It’s an unexpected match, to say the least. Right now you can buy a $13 Batman T-shirt from Target or a $500 dress shirt from Neiman Marcus online. However, company executives claim the two chains actually have a lot in common.

“Neiman Marcus and Target share a passion for great design and delighting customers in new and unexpected ways,” said Karen Katz, CEO of the Neiman Marcus Group, on the company’s blog.

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The entire collection of 50 items will be sold in every Target and Neiman Marcus store and on both retailers’ websites starting December 1. Items for men, women, children and the home will be available.

If you’re planning to get in on the deal, be prepared to arrive early or train your mouse-clicking finger. Last September Target launched a new line from Italian fashion house Missoni that crashed their website and pulled more traffic than the company saw on Black Friday. In fact Target has worked with several designers over the years to bring high-end brands to the masses.

For Neiman Marcus, the move reflects a growing interest in targeting younger and less wealthy consumers. This year the retailer is integrating lower-priced boutiques, called Cusp shops, into all of its stores, according to the Dallas Morning News. The shops will feature different music and casually dressed employees to create a less stuffy environment. Katz told the Dallas Morning News that the goal of the Cusp shops was to attract more “aspirational shoppers,” which also seems to be the aim of the Target deal. Neiman Marcus and other luxury retailers may be trying to extend their brands to a broader base at a time when consumer spending dollars remain sparse.

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Like most retailers, Neiman Marcus has faced tough times in recent years — sales tumbled by 25% at the heart of the recession. But as consumers have recovered some of their spending money, they’ve rewarded high-end retailers like Neiman Marcus. Meanwhile value clothing stores continue to be in freefall. J.C. Penney, this year’s poster child for retail troubles, just laid off 350 employees at its headquarters as it tries to find almost $1 billion in expense savings this year.

Maybe getting in on the luxury game could be the answer to more retailers’ problems. The Gap partnered with Furstenberg on a line for young girls earlier this year, which sold out easily. Amazon recently began selling high-end clothing, often at steep discounts. More and more, it seems the fashions found on the runway — or at least, a cheaper version of them — are being made available to regular Americans. And retailers are winning out thanks to that age-old truism: No matter their financial situation, Americans will always find the money for the right deal.