TORONTO - Canadians will see a familiar brand at Target's new stores north of the border this spring as the retailer embarks on a limited-time partnership with Roots.
The famed lifestyle brand — which marks its 40th anniversary this year — was among the slate of partners and limited collections announced by Target ahead of its Canadian launch. The U.S. discount giant is expected to open between 125 and 135 locations in Canada in spaces that were once owned by homegrown retailer Zellers.
Target Canada senior vice-president of merchandising John Morioka said the company had always had the idea of doing "something special" for their Canadian launch, and said the collaboration with Roots has been a year and a half in the making.
Morioka was joined by several high-profile brand partners at Thursday's announcement, including Roots co-founders Michael Budman and Don Green, famed American interior designer Nate Berkus, and chef and Food Network personality Giada De Laurentiis.
The Roots Outfitters collection, including fashions for women, men, boys, girls and toddlers, will be available from March to June.
The line will be inspired by vintage athletics and will feature national imagery and symbols synonymous with the brand, including beaver, the Maple Leaf and the "Roots" logo in cursive and block lettering emblazoned on the garments. Prices will range from $7.99 to $34.99.
"People call us an iconic brand, but we have to stay fresh," Budman said in an interview.
"We think that this is an opportunity to reach a market that maybe we're not reaching now; and with our design ability and (Target's) sourcing and design ability, we think it's a great collaboration. And we think it's going to give a lot wider audience to see Roots when Target opens. But it is for a limited time only."
Green said Target is the only company they've come across that they'd want to do business with on the mass-merchant clothing side in Canada.
"We like Target being here," he said in an interview. "We think it gives the consumer that is looking for mass merchandise more choice because there's only a few mass merchants in Canada now.
"It's younger, it's cooler, it's hipper, it's design-oriented. We like what they do environmentally, we like what they do for the community and we think it's a very global world out there. Everybody else in the world is coming here, so why not Target?"
Last year, the chain revealed plans to bring a distinctly Canadian touch to its designer collaborations.
The recipient of the Target Emerging Designer Award will be announced during Montreal Fashion Week next month. The winner will get an opportunity to create a collection for the retailer's Quebec locations.
Meanwhile, the winner of the Toronto Fashion Incubator's New Labels contest — to be held in April — will have the chance to create a line for Target stores across Canada.
LOOK: All The Brands Coming To Target Canada
Beyond the homegrown collaborations that have already been announced, Morioka said they'll have to wait and see whether there are more partnerships with Canadian companies in store for the future.
"We're going to do a lot of great things in the U.S. so we want to leverage from there and make sure we have a North American Target brand strategy," he said in an interview.
Canadians will likely see a difference in pricing compared to items carried at Target's U.S. stores with the company focused on being "competitively priced" with retailers in Canada.
Morioka said they are bringing in a five per cent reward program from the U.S. that will allow shoppers to save instantly on any transaction, which he said is also an important part of bringing value.
"Our brand is as much about price as it is about design and our store's experience, and so we have a lot more to offer than just price," he said.
"As we open our doors, I think our clean store environment and distraction-free shopping experience is really important. Certainly, the collaborations and those kinds of things that we do on that front really are a great value.
"So, it is about price, but it's also about value, and we'll bring that to Canada. And as we learn more, we'll have to make adjustments as we learn how Canadian guests shop our stores."
Attendees at Thursday's preview got an up-close glimpse of the vast range of products set to be stocked on shelves and racks when the retailer opens for business in Canada.
Colourful vignettes featuring home decor, cookware, food products, cosmetics, apparel and accessories were spread throughout the Evergreen Brick Works, which played host to the brand presentation.
Live models posed on a makeshift stage outfitted in black and white and pastels from Target's Merona brand as well as looks from Mossimo, which creates a line for the retailer.
An eye-popping presentation featured skaters gliding across the indoor ice surface while models strutting on a makeshift green runway rounded out the presentation.
Target is also touting a women's apparel collection from stylist Kate Young, to be on offer from April 14 to the end of May.
Other brands shoppers can expect to see at Target include cosmetics from Sonia Kashuk and fashions from snowboarder Shaun White.
Berkus's collection includes bedding and bath accessories while De Laurentiis has a line of cookware.