How this Target collection featuring dresses and swimwear is a step to increase racial equity

Kelly Tyko
Tabitha Brown for Target features apparel and accessories.

Target's next limited-time collaboration is about more than clothes and accessories.

The upcoming launch of the Tabitha Brown for Target collection also is another step the retailer says it is taking to increase racial equity and the number of Black-owned brands, officials shared with USA TODAY.

"As we continue to champion a diverse and inclusive culture for all, it’s important that we curate partnerships that reflect those values," Jill Sando, executive vice president and chief merchandising officer, told USA TODAY. "This collaboration was created with a focus on offering a thoughtfully curated assortment that spans several categories and meets our guests’ wants and needs."

DAILY MONEY NEWSLETTER:  Money tips and advice delivered right to your inbox. Sign up here

TARGET COLLAB: Target announces summer collection with Tabitha Brown is coming in June with clothes, swimwear

After George Floyd’s murder sparked a national wave of protests to protect Black lives, many companies. including Target, made diversity pledges and a commitment to put more Black-owned brands on their shelves.

Target's racial equity progress

Soon after Floyd, a Black man, died under the knee of a white police officer in Minneapolis – where Target is headquartered – Target announced it was donating $10 million to "support nonprofit partners focused on addressing the systemic and structural barriers facing Black communities."

The retailer also created the REACH (Racial Equity Action and Change) committee and in September 2020, it announced plans to increase the diversity of its workforce, pledging to grow its percentage of Black employees by 20% over the next three years.

Then, last April, Target committed to spending more than $2 billion with Black-owned businesses and adding products from more than 500 Black-owned businesses to its inventory by the end of 2025. This includes marketing agencies, construction companies, facilities maintenance providers and others.

Since making that pledge, Target said in a recent update that it has increased investments with Black-owned brands, companies and suppliers by more than 50% compared to 2020 and more than doubled Black-owned brand product offerings.

Target currently offers more than 100 Black-owned brands in every major product category including beauty, home goods, toys, food and beverage items.

Collaborations with Black designers and engagement with Black creators within Target's owned brand have also expanded. They include an exclusive home collaboration with Justina Blakeney, Opalhouse designed with Jungalow, and limited-time collaborations with partners Christian Robinson and Hilton Carter. 

Tabitha Brown

Tabitha Brown: Representation matters

Brown said Target has done an "amazing" job in increasing racial equity and diversity.

“Representation is a really big thing. It makes a difference and it matters. And I'm just happy to partner with someone who sees this and is actively trying to change things and make things better,” Brown said. “I am proof of that.”

Target has also increased representation in other ways, such as featuring brown-skinned mermaids on children's sheets. The products are resonating with members of Target-focused Facebook groups like Black Women Who Love TARGET sharing their finds and talking about snapping up the products.

Shoppers agree that Target has been ahead of the competition in encouraging racial equity and respecting Black shoppers.

“They’ve really been a frontrunner in establishing and honoring Black excellence and Black creativity,'' said Texas educator Sharla Horton-Williams, who started the Facebook group which shares news about the latest Black designers in Target.

For Black History Month in Target, Brown said Target continued to put a section "front and center" versus in the back of the store.

"They let you know, hey, we support you. We see you and we also have options that you can support. Absolutely, the representation is everything," Brown said.

It shows how much has changed. She doesn't think a collection at a major retailer would have been possible 15 or 20 years ago.

“Black voices, talent and creators are being amplified because of companies like Target," Brown said. "The opportunities are there, the doors are open and we are walking in and taking up space. I'm grateful to be alive for it.”

Contributing: Danielle Broadway, special to USA TODAY

Follow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko. For shopping news, tips and deals, join us on our Shopping Ninjas Facebook group