LOS ANGELES - William Rast is the latest designer label to board the Target train, with a capsule collection hitting stores just in time for last-minute holiday shopping.
Unlike most of Target's high-low partnerships, which have relatively little (if anything) to offer the fashion-forward male, this one has just as much to offer the guys as it does the girls. The selections include T-shirts, button-front shirts, and hoodies for him; skirts, faux-leather shorts, jeggings, and embellished loose-fitting tank tops for her; and a range of five-pocket denim and outerwear pieces for both.
The chance to offer menswear was a major reason that the limited-run collection has the end-of-the-year pole position.
"The last week of holiday and moving into January is a really crucial time for apparel," said Trish Adams, Target's senior vice president of apparel and accessories. "And, historically, 95 percent of our collaborations have been geared to women - the last one that really had something for men was Rogan, which was a little over two years ago - and we were really looking for something that had a compelling offering for men."
The William Rast for Target collection is priced from $16.99 for a tank T-shirt to $199.99 for a fringed leather jacket (compared with $50 to $700 for the core William Rast line). It's slated to be sold in select Target stores and on the retailer's website through Jan. 22.
Even if you aren't familiar with the name William Rast, based in Los Angeles, you've probably heard of one of its cofounders: singer-actor Justin Timberlake. The pop star launched the denim-heavy line in 2005 with Trace Ayala, a childhood friend from their days in Millington, Tenn. ("William" is the first name of Timberlake's grandfather, and "Rast" is the last name of Ayala's.) The line drew much of its nostalgic Americana aesthetic from the shared childhood experience.
Over the last five years, William Rast proper, which sells through high-end boutiques and department stores, has slowly grown, both in offerings - footwear and eyewear were recent additions, and handbags are reportedly in the works - and in footprint, opening a handful of stand-alone stores. The founders also recruited the high-power fashion-design duo of Johan and Marcella Lindeberg.
Although it has evolved since, the line today still hews to those early influences, keying into assorted frontier, biker, military, and wandering-free-spirit influences from season to season. It's a vibe that definitely translates to the new Target collection as well - although it's been distilled even further to "biker/rebel" basics (for him) and "bohemian/tomboy" staples (for her). It also feels more appropriate for the younger end of the 20- to 30-year-old demographic range Target is shooting for.
Noteworthy pieces on the men's side include heavy military-inspired twill shirts perfect for layering and deliberately pre-wrinkled plaid shirts with Western-style snap buttons (each $34.99). Standouts among the women's wardrobe choices are stretchy black embellished skirts that manage to be sexy but not trashy ($34.99) and woven silk blouses ($34.99).
The buttery leather outerwear pieces for both are surprisingly supple, and the women's black leather jacket with epaulets at the shoulder and fringe along the front of the yoke looks and feels worth a lot more than its $199.99 price tag indicates.
The range of five-pocket denim offerings is simple and straightforward, with straight-leg, skinny, and boot-cut styles and with patching, abrading, and oil-staining treatments. If you're familiar with the William Rast brand's deep roots in premium denim, the assortment offered here might feel less than compelling - until you take the $49.99 price into account.
William Rast for Target is the latest in the retailer's designer partnerships, which in 2010 alone have included collections with John Paul Gaultier, Liberty of London, Zac Posen, and handbag brand Mulberry. Last year's yuletide release was the highly anticipated Target for Rodarte collection, which, like some other Target capsule collaborations, proved to be scarce or sold out in some locations long before the monthlong run was over.
Given the potential halo effect of Timberlake's popularity (his name appears on the hang tags along with Ayala's, and he's appearing in ads), interested shoppers who hesitate to check out the collection could miss their Rast chance this holiday season.