By Chastity Garner Valentine, Founder, GarnerStyle
It started with a letter. This letter. The one I wrote to Target in 2014 to vent my frustration that their latest designer collection didn’t have my size. Again. You see, I love Target. We have history. And back in the day we saw each other a lot. At the same time, I knew Target’s options for plus-sized women like myself weren’t seeing the love in return. So, after falling in love with a designer collaboration that I couldn’t buy or wear—I sat down to write.
It Happened So Fast
I hadn’t written a letter that called out a retailer before, so I just did what came naturally, laying out all my feelings in an honest way and sharing them with my readers. I thought I was just getting the conversation started, but the post, my frustration, my experience, resonated with a lot of women who began sharing it on social media. I was nervous and excited at the same time and it felt like something big was about to happen, but I didn’t know what. Turns out I’d only have to wait about 24 hours to find out: that’s when Target reached out to me, asking if I was willing to meet with them to talk.
The next thing I knew, I was at Target Headquarters in Minneapolis—working side-by-side with the Target team on a new plus-sized brand. They were super passionate about designing for this type of girl—for me, for my friends and for all women who were feeling the same frustrations that I was—and you could tell they were committed to getting it just right.
So we got down to it. I was invited, along with bloggers Gabi Gregg and Nicolette Mason, to share what I liked and what I thought worked, as well as what I knew my readers would be into. And to see the Target team put so much effort and passion into their work for AVA & VIV was incredible. Best of all, they respected the opinions of myself and the other influencers as we shared our ideas and inspiration, incorporating the feedback into every detail of the garments.
When I think about my relationship with Target, our love story has come full circle. I love Target. Not just because they took the time to listen but also because they took immediate action to expand their assortment so women of all shapes and sizes can shop beautiful, stylish and AFFORDABLE clothes: From WhoWhatWear to the new 20th Anniversary Collection which, yes, is bringing back 20 incredible designer collaborations, all in extended sizing for women. It’s also because Target continues to show up for all women.
One way they go above and beyond, for me? Target now sponsors an event I co-founded, called theCURVYcon. For 2019 (its third year participating) Target was behind an expanded fashion show that featured products from the limited-edition Anniversary Collection, along with a pop-up shop giving attendees early access before it drops nationwide on Sept. 14. Sometimes, I still can’t believe it.
Today, Target is family. Regardless of size, a woman needs to be able to present herself to the world in an elevated way, and to be able to afford to do it. I feel Target is empowering women to do just that—and I can’t wait to see and shop what they come up with next.
Check out the gallery below for a peek at Target’s 20th Anniversary Collection on theCURVYcon runway and shop Target’s expanded assortment of apparel & accessories right here on Target.com.
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