Missoni Mania Crashes Target Site; Buyers Flood Aisles

Cheap chic has its price and, in Target's case yesterday, it was the viability of its website, which sputtered, wheezed and went on life support for most of the day as cybershoppers turned out in droves to purchase items from the Missoni for Target limited-edition collection of fashion and home décor items. The 400-piece line features merchandise ranging between $2.99 for stationery and $599.99 for patio furniture.

Let's get this out of the way right now for those of you who moonlight as consumers: "Fear not, design divas: More merchandise is on the way," as Georgia Kovanis writes in the Detroit Free Press. It will be back on the shelves as early as tomorrow, in fact, although the AP says it is expected to "trickle in." The website was running again as of late last night, one reporter writes, but it was down again early this morning.

"We had around 30 to 40 people at the doors this morning," Ashley Keinath, a manager at Target Greatland in Troy, Mich., tells Kovanis, and the store was mostly sold out within an hour. "There were guests who had multiple carts with multiple items. ... All day, the team was talking about how it felt like Christmas, the day after Thanksgiving."



Boston.com's Stylephile blogger Rachel Raczka was on the case from almost the get-go, writing that when she logged on to look at the site early in the morning, it had already crashed. A screen shot of Twitter feeds she perused at 9:02 a.m. contain such gems as "Not a good day for @Target re: Missoni collaboration. Site down; shelves empty in 10 mins. Big winner is eBay!"

Indeed, by 1 p.m. the blog Shefinds.com was reporting that 1,473 Missoni for Target pieces were for sale on eBay, International Business Timesreports. But an angry backlash was swelling against significant markups.

"DO NOT BUY Missoni for Target on Ebay!," tweeted one wannabe buyer. "These people are putting it on for over double what it retails for! NOT WORTH IT!"

By 5 p.m., there were 6,600 items listed, according to another report. At 7 a.m. ET this morning? 21,600. Sounds like a 21st century version of the Dutch tulip craze, no? But people are bidding.

"This was Missoni mayhem," according to Target spokesman Joshua Thomas. "This is unprecedented."

Missoni was founded in 1953 by the Italian husband-and-wife team Ottavio and Rosita Missoni, and dresses carrying their label retail for more than $1,000 at high-end stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue. The less-expensive M Missoni line starts at about $600. Dresses in the Missoni for Target collection are less than $60; a skirt could be had for $40. The New York Times' Stephanie Clifford writes that Missoni items at Bergdorf Goodman can cost "up to $12,000" without specifying which.

Clifford traces Target's all-too-successful drumming up of demand in the weeks preceding the rollout, including cultivation of fashion bloggers, celebrity-studded parties and a Manhattan pop-up shop where the merchandise sold out in six hours last week. Even Vogue did a spread. Then came technological execution.

"Marketing experts said the blunder was amateurish, although they said it should not have any lasting effect on Target's reputation," Clifford reports.

"It's a little bit embarrassing for one of the nation's largest retailers to have a Web site that can't support a rush -- it's not like they're any strangers to rushes," Deep Focus CEO Ian Schafer tells Clifford. "It's saying, 'We're so popular we had to turn people away at the door.' Then get a bigger place."

It's no wonder the site was overwhelmed with press like this review by the Fashionista blogger Mickie Meinhardt: "You've heard the hype, seen the ads and the previews, and gotten appropriately worked up over the epic 400-piece Missoni for Target collection. Now you can start planning which items to buy and see what they look like on someone other than Margherita Missoni. The full lookbook is here, and it's a field day of colorful zigzags and swirly patterns with a slight mod vibe."

And, Meinhardt says, "you could totally re-decorate your apartment a la the Missoni clan for a paltry sum."

No one has ever accused me of being a fashionista, but an entire apartment in zigzags and swirls with a "slightly mod vibe"? Methinks it will not be another 50 years before such a vertigo-inducing ensemble becomes as dated as a kitchen in Avocado Green.

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