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Target Partners With Designer Jason Wu

Never mind the Missoni mayhem, Target has announced its next foray into High Fashion, a partnership with up-and-coming designer Jason Wu.

AP

Wu gained notoriety when he designed First Lady Michelle Obama’s gown for the Inaugural Ball in 2009. He is known for feminine and sophisticated designs, and sketches for the Target line show dresses with full skirts, shirts with high necklines, and a cat motif, which Wu says was inspired by the feline who is his latest muse.

The new collaboration reaffirms Target’s commitment to producing affordable fashion after the mishaps that surrounded the launch of its Missoni for Target line in September.

The demand for the Missoni products, which incorporated the designers’ iconic zigzag prints on clothing, home furnishings and other items, caused such a frenzy the products sold out almost immediately, and Target’s website crashed several times, leaving customers irritated. Some shoppers also reported their Missoni orders were botched. Target issued an apology on its website.

But that may have just been a bump in the road for such partnerships.

"Clearly Missoni’s launch was a great success, it created a lot of media buzz, consumer buzz, and drove significant traffic,” says Jeff Klinefelter, retail analyst at Piper Jaffray.

He says the buzz encouraged customers to visit the company's site and put the store back on their radar.

Although Klinefelter believes that Jason Wu’s line may not have the same level of success as Missoni’s, he is confident that it will be a net positive for Target.

"I don't think they can repeat the same reaction for [Wu], but it will be very well received, it’s an accredited brand and a great follow up to Missoni," Klinefelter says.

The Jason Wu for Target line will be available in Target stores beginning Feb. 5, 2012, and prices will range anywhere between $19.99 and $59.99 — a considerable discount from Wu’s original line. The merchandise, if it lasts, will be on sale through March 6.

Affordable luxury became a popular phrase during the recession. When sales of luxury brands struggled to hang onto market share and the once glitzy Madison Avenue became a desolate place, designers turned to create a more affordable line to be sold at mass retailers like Target and Kohl’s .

Target has been able to successfully capitalize on the cost-conscious customers by teaming up with big designers such as Alexander McQueen, Mulberry, Liberty of London and of course, its lucrative partnership with Missoni.

These partnerships help bolster Target’s reputation for being trendy and fashionable. And in that sense, they change the game for Target a bit.

Klinefelter says they are a “brand needle mover, sales needle mover and a long-term reinforcement of brand differentiation“ for Target.

Although companies do not disclose individual sales numbers of these designers’ products, Target’s sales rose 5.3 percent in September, a same-store sales basis, and that was better than what the retail giant was expecting — possibly shedding some light on its success with Missoni.

Questions? Comments? Email us at consumernation@cnbc.com. Follow Christina Cheddar Berk on Twitter @ccheddarberk.

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