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Target: Gilt Groupe Teamup Good; Doonan's Costume Couture Bad

target gilt groupe saleTarget's (TGT) been refining its hype-to-rack tactic for its designer collaborations for several years now. So it's no surprise that the discount retailer teamed up with membership-based, luxury e-commerce site Gilt Groupe. The joint sale that starts today (noon ET!) is sending fashionistas into a froth over upcoming assortments from highly desirable (and usually highly priced) houses such as Mulberry, Tucker, and that deity of home décor John Derian.

As per its winning formula, team Target made the official announcement of the Gilt Groupe partnership a little more than a week ago, when it was immediately picked up by style bloggers across the country. The added bonus is that items appearing on Gilt Groupe today will not be available at Target's stores until September and October.

Part of the Target special collections' appeal is this viral ramp up, replete with sneak peeks as the tantalizing virtual equivalent of whispering tidbits of information. Think "Did you see that all the pieces will be priced under $40 -â€" ZOMG!!" It's the kind of promotion you can't put a price on -- because it doesn't cost a penny -- and the effect is magic.

Similarly, Gilt Groupe's playing to the same impulse among cost-conscious style setters. The site's built a $500 million business out of limiting sales and offerings to zealous devotees who wait, mouse in hand, to click immediately when a sale starts. It's like Black Friday doorbusters without the danger of getting trampled. But even Gilt understands that democratizing fashion is the only way to grow. So the previously exclusive site (invite only) is offering membership for the price of registration (read: free in exchange for your email) and crossing fingers that its ranks of 2.5 million will swell to include all those bargain hunting Target shoppers.

While the Target/Gilt collaboration is undoubtedly a score for all sides (including consumers), the retailer's decision to roll out a special collection of Halloween-wear designed by Barney's creative director Simon Doonan may miss the mark.

"Costume Couture," as the line's been dubbed, is less sweet treat than copiously campy. Though Doonan's masterminded some of the most thrilling tableaus in the modern retail landscape, are his "Trick or Trend" or "Honk If I'm Fierce" witches' hats and Vegas Vampire "We Know How to Party" capes going to elicit more than a scratch of the head from the regular Target customer? Likewise, Doonan's jabs, err, references to pop culture such as the "Pumpkin Punk Rocker" t-shirt (nod to MTV's Jersey Shore ) seem like they're trying too hard to be snarky.

The proof will be in the third quarter. Target finished its second quarter with a 3.8 increase in sales and has a very healthy balance sheet with over $1.5 million in cash. It certainly can afford to have a small miss among the big hits.

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