It’s not often that I flat out bash any designer collection. That’s because usually every collection has something out there for everyone to enjoy. But that’s precisely the bone I have to pick with Target’s latest collaboration with Kate Young. Though the stylist’s debut line was a highly anticipated launch, after test-driving some pieces, I would go so far as to say that regardless of the way you enjoy your Target collabs (from sifting through the racks enjoying the latest styles, to picking up at least one piece per launch to add to your wardrobe), you’ll be let down. I am 100% confident in saying that Kate Young’s Target line is the worst collaboration that the superstore has ever featured. Why can I make such bold claims? Because my reasons for disliking the offerings of the line are not taste-specific.
Coming off the high of Prabal Gurung’s February line for Target, Kate Young’s is a complete letdown. I understand that everyone’s style and personal aesthetics are always different, subjective and changing with the trends. Not everyone loves bold florals, neons, or excess beading — I get it. The effectiveness of this collection has nothing to do with personal style. I find the line to be disappointing on all levels:
1. The collection does not take into consideration the range of body types that make up the Target consumer base. If you don’t have Alexa Chung’s body or penchant for Peter Pan collars, you won’t find a single thing that suits you. And that’s a problem. (A problem that really only arises when you take on the challenge of designing for mass retailers. You want to make a clothing line exclusively for whimsically-reminiscent model-sized waifs? That’s fine, as long as you don’t market it “for everybody,” which is exactly what you do when you put it in the front aisle of Target.)
2. Most of the pieces in the line are not even remotely visually interesting. Even if you’re more of a store browser than tireless fashionista, I’ll bet my last dollar that you’ll find the entire collection boring. Solid black dresses, floor-length white “gowns,” and weirdly-shaped neutral blazers are definitely not the trendy pieces of this spring/summer season. All of the spice of this collection is somehow missing: the cropped black bolero jacket features a silky animal print — hidden on the inside. One Kate Young ad features a model in a bright yellow 3/4” sleeved dress, but that particular garment wasn’t in stores to take a look at. If the line’s most visually appealing pieces aren’t bought by stores or are saved as online-exclusives, what’s the point of taking up so much store space?
3. Cap sleeves, cap sleeves, and more cap sleeves. Let it be said that I hate cap sleeves with ferocity. Through my incessant complaining about cap sleeves, I have found that most women share my thoughts. Cap sleeves have an amazing ability of making a woman’s arm look like a fatty shank of meat, hanging out from beneath a wisp of fabric. If your arms are slightly less toned than Michelle Obama’s, or have an inch more fat than your average runway model’s, cap sleeves have a way of accentuating your arms worst qualities. Or even making them up, finding the non-existent imperfections of your arm and shoving them forward to be displayed! Kate Young’s line is FULL of cap sleeves. As in, every single casual dress in the line features the heinous design. Even the gorgeous models in the ads look self-conscious about their arms. To make cap sleeves look acceptable, most women will have to size-up for a little more room, but then you’ll run the risk of the cap not lying properly on your shoulders. (Note: cap sleeves scare me so much that I didn’t even try anything on.)
4. If the collection’s not going to be particularly trendy, then it should be comfortable, right? You’d think so. I’m sure that a lot of women love the basic shapes and colors that make up the line, but I believe that the fabrics bring up new challenges. Sure, the silky white blazer isn’t ugly, it’s actually quite nice. There’s even a gorgeous picture of the actress Michelle Williams wearing it at a party, so it’s got that going for it. What’s the problem? It’s made out of a wrinkle-plagued cheap silk that I would neither want to trust to look elegant for a formal event nor sweat in during the hotter summer months. The floor-length maxi dresses aren’t bad, either, but I imagine the heavy black poly-blend fabric would be awful, clinging to your legs in the heat. The fabric inconsistency is everywhere in this collection — one of my first reactions was wondering if the line had been created as a winter collection and then pushed back to an April launch with few edits. If I were to ever wear the cap sleeve dresses, I would want to pair them with black opaque tights, which isn’t happening in May. The longer pieces are so long that if you’re any shorter than me (and I’m 5’9”), you’d have to hem them — and they’re not worth the investment.
5. This is supposed to be a wearable collection. Kate Young’s selling point is that she’s not a “designer,” she’s a stylist. Read: she’s supposed to know what looks and feels good on women. Lots of designers seem to sacrifice women’s needs and wants when creating artistic runway-ready collections, but a stylist should know better. These aren’t the outfits decorating Vogue (Kate’s old job), they’re the ones we’re living our lives in. One pair of heels has a cool scalloped flame effect on the toe, but it’s created using the help of a clear plastic panel. What real woman could go through her day with plastic digging into her feet?! Congratulations on making one of the most uncomfortable parts of a shoe even less comfortable. The jewelry in the collection is so cheap that one store I checked out didn’t even put it away in the locked glass cabinets. (They even put the $3 sale earrings in there.) It feels so chintzy that it will break before you even buy it, and who needs the horror of a necklace breaking on you at a work meeting?
If you’ve found any luck with the Kate Young collection, feel free to let me know! As I’ve said, the pieces aren’t ugly, so if you can find pieces that you’re happy and comfortable in, all the power to you. There are still pieces I’m interested in (like that elusive yellow dress!) so I can’t condemn everything. You just can’t convince me to try on the cap sleeves.