It all started with a tweet.

For singer Dannii Minogue, the traditional boardroom deal was preceded by a line 140 characters or less.

"I'm quite big on social media and I got a tweet and responded to it," she recalls of a chance exchange with Target Australia. "We rolled from that tweet. We're fans of each other, we wanted to work with together and find something that was solution-based for the customer."

Following the correspondence five years ago, Target Australia and Minogue partnered on a clothing venture in 2014. Dannii Minogue Petites, a range aimed at women sized 4P to 16P.

"I always believed that people's lives are getting busier, we're all time poor and we want things to be easier," she says.

"The thing that annoyed me more than anything was buying clothes that don't fit, having them altered to make them fit and I just wanted to buy petite clothing off-the-rack that I didn't have to find a seamstress."

The collaboration rolled out just one year after Minogue closed her own clothing venture, Project D.

It has survived three Target leadership teams since - Stuart Machin, Guy Russo and now Marina Joanou. Minogue, who co-founded Project D as a boutique womenswear brand, harnessed the retailer's economies of scale to target an under-served market.

Target Petites offers wearable pieces for women under 5"3 with prices generally under $50 per item.

"The range has come through an evolution," Minogue reveals. "We've had different designers helping me in the team.

"We wanted to just design a range initially, get it out there and see what the customer responded to. We have tried all sorts but I feel like we're getting in sync with the customer.

"In her top five, always, is a high waisted denim jean. We do it in different colours, washes, different kinds of denim. It's always got a peachy pocket which elongates your leg and makes your butt look nice. We're not changing that."

One factor that is changing at Target HQ is its broader merchandise strategy: in August, it was revealed 80 head office jobs had been consolidated in order to accelerate this transformation.

Focussing on core categories such as apparel, the retailer is starting to unleash premium branded ventures such such as Z x Zanerobe and Bettina Liano.

This has been paired with a wider overhaul by head of womenswear Karen Brickell, who started delivering more trend-driven product into stores last year. This included a pair of statement activewear leggings which shifted 3,600 units in just days.

For Minogue, easy-to-wear fabrics and differing colourways will be the next stage of growth for the Petites range.

"The fashion items will come and go and spin in and out of that," she says. "We try to have some newness in the collection, with fresh items dropping every few weeks. But we like to make sure we can back it up and not fragment it and there's enough stock in store."

In winter 2019, coats delivered a strong return for the range while maxi dresses will be a focus for the coming summer season. The retailer will release two different lengths allowing customers shorter than 5"3 options to wear the stlye.

"Next from the range, we will be bouncing off ideas that are coming from the customer as well as fashion trends," Minogue says. "Particularly colours that she wants, she wants to be on trend with colours and easy fabrics that aren't too hard to take care of."

While Target is still in the throes of a repositioning - with second half comparable sales decreasing 2.3% this year - there's no doubt it commands a significant presence in the market. Together with sister brand Kmart Australia, the two command 10% of domestic apparel market share and it alone operates 184 large and 110 small stores.

For Minogue, the continued success of her collaborative Petites range comes down to serving the core customer. Right down to first impressions.

“A highlight for me has been creating a Petites mannequin. When we were having her made, the supplier told us he'd never been asked to make a Petite mannequin before. When we started off, I said it's really important these clothes don't fit on kids because we're sick of shopping in the kids department if we're small. I wanted to come into store and see something for me.”


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