eBay Takes a Page from Target's Playbook With Narciso Rodriguez' Designer Collection

Last Updated Jan 29, 2010 8:16 PM EST

The clothes in Target's Go International line usually fly off the racks, often the day it is put out. During the recent Rodarte frenzy, I spotted a woman carrying multiple sizes of a feature piece --a flirty blue party dress-- to the check out, instead of the changing room. She might have been outfitting a bridal party, but more likely she was going to re-sell the designer threads on eBay. Where she will likely make a tidy profit.

Diffusion lines have popped up all over, bringing coveted collections at lower prices to shoppers at H&M, Topshop, Kohl's and the like. The unexpected phenomenon that has driven an entire side business though, that of re-selling pieces to hungry fashionistas all over the world via eBay.

It makes you wonder why eBay doesn't just find a designer for a fab collab and get rolling. They finally did.

On February 15, "Narciso Rodriguez for eBay," will be available exclusively through the Narciso Rodriguez eBay store. The Cuban designer is best known for Michelle Obama's election night ensemble pictured below. Rodriguez' collection for eBay consists of eight pieces that are expected to stick close to the body-conscious designs that have become his signature. The clothes will sell at fixed price points ranging from $65 - $350 USD.

Though I asked an eBay spokeswoman if this new venture sprang from steady sales of other diffusion pieces, she insists that Rodriguez chose eBay as his first direct-to-consumer online sales channel to tap its 89 million active users.

The spokeswoman told me that eBay's economics are incubators for entrepreneurs and small businesses like Rodriguez, whose privately held company generates less than $10 million a year in sales.

Despite losing financial backing from Liz Claiborne in 2008, Rodriguez has refused to take the fast fashion road of his contemporaries, saying he didn't want to compromise his vision to a low-priced chain retailer.

She says eBay is delighted with his decision and hopes it becomes a model other high-end fashion designers can replicate. "eBay is committed to extending its importance in the fashion industry and looks forward to introducing additional eBay-exclusive designer lines in the future," she adds. I think I hear the sound of thousands of sewing machines playing harmony to mice clicking on PayPal buttons.