Target & Missoni Marry in 2011
At the time, Missoni wanted to test the lower-priced market without compromising its brand. Target wanted to cement its place as a stylish, sophisticated and on-trend alternative to WalMart and other high-volume retailers.
On that brisk fall day I waited in line with other mothers for the doors to open. I gripped the stroller handles in anticipation.
And then - Oh, HELLO, famous Missoni zigzag, flame-stitch knit pattern slapped and laminated on all manner of home goods and clothing, from long skirts and sweaters to plastic plates, rubber boots and canvas purses!
No matter that I was covered in goldfish crumbs and that I was standing in a Target - TARGET! - in rural New Hampshire. Which, last time I checked, was not the elite shopping district of Milan, Italy. Nope, in that moment I had access to exquisite, world-class design. Right before naptime. Joy. Pure textile joy - all for about $30 a pop.
The Missoni for Target Collection was insanely successful. There were stampedes. Inventory sold out across the country in hours. Target’s main website crashed, which is a ridiculous badge of success in this era. Days after the launch Missoni for Target goods flooded eBay, with some resellers auctioning items for three times their original price.
None of this is that new.
Artist Textiles: Picasso to Warhol
Last weekend I saw the “Artist Textiles: Picasso to Warhol’ exhibit at the American Textile History Museum in Lowell, MA. I was surprised to learn that the likes of Picasso, Matisse, Calder, Dalí and Miró designed for British and US textile companies in the 40s, 50s and 60s. Picasso’s designs even ended up on White Stag’s ski wear and “lounge wear,” and on a junior line of dresses!
During and immediately following World War II, the British Cotton Board organized an effort to export artist-designed textiles. Many of the British manufacturers were in dire need of revenue, and the Board smartly realized that by collaborating with famous artists they could garner public attention at minimal expense.
Can you imagine an ad for a limited-edition Matisse headscarf back in 1947?!?
In the US, the marriage of art and commerce had started during the Great Depression. The Federal Art Project in the late 20s and 1930s had resulted in government-commissioned fine art prints being distributed for free to schools and public institutions.
A few years later Reeves Lewenthal, the founder of the gallery Associated American Artists (AAA), was savvy enough to use this same model to make money for the artists and for himself. In 1934 he contracted with department stores to sell - not give away - fine art prints. The artists were paid for each edition, and Lewenthal collected the larger profits from acting as broker between the artists and stores.
These partnerships paved the way for the post-WWII trend of hiring established artists to design textiles that were intended to be mass-produced and distributed to middle class women across the country.
Owning modern art, in whatever form, became . . . cool. And accessible.
Tomorrow I’ll write more about this exhibit as well as share photos of specific pieces in the show. There was plenty of inspiration for the textile-lover, even in this abbreviated and relatively small collection.
Finally - if you’re in New England where I am: stay warm, enjoy the snow day and snow storm, and GO PATRIOTS!!!