Rogan Gregory
Rogan Gregory

DALLAS, Apr 17, 2008 / FW/ — Just in time for Earth day (April 22), Target announced last Tuesday that Rogan Gregory (photo left), a well-known eco-friendly fashion designer is creating a capsule collection of sustainable fashion for the chic discounter under its GO International initiative.

Expected to hit Target stores nationwide on May 18 and available through June 28, the Rogan for Target collection is the retailing giant’s first high profile program towards eco-friendliness.

There is a misconception among fashionistas that eco-friendly clothing is cheap and looks like burlap. That is farthest from the truth. Organic cotton and bamboo are more expensive to grow than chemically farmed cotton and bamboo. Without going through the whole explanation comparing organic and chemical farming, let it suffice to say that organic farming is more labor intensive, thus making it harder and costlier than chemical farming.

Translate that into fashion items, the price tag just go higher because not only are the fabric more expensive, manufacturing costs are also higher because there are stricter regulations before the label ‘organic’ or eco-friendly can be used.

Case in point, Rogan Gregory’s Loomstate and Edun line, both of which are labeled as “eco-friendly and sustainable” start at $60 for a basic t-shirt, jeans begin at $150 and an anorak jacket can cost you at least $320.

For a mass-market retailer like Target where price points rule, a foray into eco-friendly products also puts a stress into its business strategy. Keeping prices low when production cost is high is going to be a challenge, to say the least. And, that is just the beginning.

Because caring for the environment is the current buzzword in the U.S. and it has entered into the consciousness of the majority of the population, the labels ‘eco-friendly and sustainable’ though there are still no major laws enacted for it, compliance to the accepted definition is voluntary.

In short, consumers have to rely on the honesty of retailers if there is an ‘eco-friendly’ tag on an apparel or accessory; and then of course, there are the consumer watch dogs who says yeah or nay.

Rogan Gregory is the best choice Target could have for an eco-friendly designer to collaborate with. Combining his designing prowess with his celebrity status due to his commitment to protecting the environment, the New York-based designer had gained the trust and the confidence of the fashion set.

Target also scored points with its admission that GO International products are manufactured in China. And that is something that businesses in general do not want to admit to nowadays because of the tide of public opinion against the Asian country for a lot of reasons beginning for its nonchalance way it is treating its pollution problem, to the more politically explosive Sudan and Darfur issues, plus the protests of the Dalai Lama.

Political issues with China aside, a partnership between an eco-conscious designer like Rogan Gregory and Target should be commended. It is hard being green, especially for a mass market retailer where price points are considered holy. Target is making a conscious effort to be environmentally friendly and that is a positive step.

Photos courtesy of Target