By Kavita Kumar
Star Tribune (Minneapolis).
Her Target boycott was short-lived.
Chastity Garner Valentine, a prolific fashion blogger with 68,000 followers on Instagram, was so fed up when she found out the designer partnership Target announced last August would not, once again, have clothes in plus sizes that she announced a boycott of the company.
A day or two later, she got a call from Target. They were working on a new plus-size line and wanted to see if she would help them promote it.
Fast-forward five months, and Valentine is now one of the brand ambassadors for Ava & Viv, Target’s new plus-size brand that was unveiled in New York last week. It’s the Minneapolis-based retailer’s first new private-label apparel line in seven years and will begin rolling out in mid-February.
“I’m always open to conversations and improvement,” Valentine said in a phone interview from her Bay Area home this week.
A Target spokesman noted the retailer had planned to reach out to her even before she launched her personal boycott.
As Target’s design team developed the new line, they decided to hook up with three bloggers, Gabi Gregg, Nicolette Mason and Valentine, who hold a lot of sway in the plus-size fashion community and who have been pushing retailers and brands to offer more stylish options that don’t try to mask their shape.
In December, Target flew the women to Minneapolis to meet with the team behind Ava & Viv, convey their irritations with plus-size offerings, and give suggestions for the fall line. Target also paid them to be models in Ava & Viv’s look book.
“Things don’t ever get better if all of the input is ‘We love it,'” said Stacia Andersen, Target’s senior vice president of apparel and accessories. “They didn’t hold back.”
Over the years, Target has had a rocky relationship with its plus-size customers. The company’s website once described the color of a plus-size dress as “manatee gray.” And just this month, the firm took some criticism for deciding that plus-size apparel for its upcoming partnership with designer Lilly Pulitzer would be available only online.