Duluth Pack has joined forces with an influential new partner that also hails from Minnesota.
On Sunday, Target.com launched its Collective line of men's products aimed at what some in the retail press have characterized as quality-minded, no-nonsense "lumbersexual" consumers.
Target described the online campaign as its "first curated design-focused collection tailored to men," featuring "impeccably-crafted USA-made goods."
Target began offering some Duluth Pack products online in November, and Jamie Bastian, a spokeswoman for the retailer said they have been well received. But the new campaign represents Target's first promotional push of the Duluth-based label as part of a select collection.
"With Target Collective, we're bringing together six different brands that all offer quality, well-crafted American-made products, and Duluth Pack really stood out as one that we saw is already a great fit with our guests and will be received well as part of this umbrella program," Bastian said.
Duluth Pack would seem a natural choice for the Collective line, in the eyes of Ryan Hanson, a sales representative for the Northland manufacturer.
"They were seeking to do more with American-made companies to kind of push with the American heritage movement and the fact that people are willing to spend a little more money to have American-made products that will last a bit longer than some of the things that are made overseas," he said.
Bastian agreed that Duluth Pack, founded in 1882, was a good fit.
"We chose Duluth Pack for this initiative because they're the oldest bag company in the U.S., and what they're known for is the quality, fine-tuned craftsmanship of their products. As an added bonus of course, they're also in Minnesota, which makes it really fun for us. We're overall just thrilled to have them as a partner," she said.
Hanson said the Duluth Pack label appeals to a wide demographic.
"It's funny because you can see one of our Scout packs or some our more popular lifestyle products on a 21-year-old hipster in New York City, and then you can go up on the Superior Hiking Trail and see an 80-year-old retiree doing a day hike at Gooseberry with the same bag," he said. "I think a lot of our products, especially our lifestyle products, kind of transcend generations."
While Duluth Pack's management team welcomes its recent partnership with Target, Hanson said the company won't allow the relationship with a big-box retailer to chip away at its prices.
"We don't discount our products. We don't allow any of our dealers to discount our products either. So that was a big thing for us: making sure that Target would hold our pricing, and that has not been a problem," he said.
Duluth Pack makes the most expensive single item in the Target Collective line - a $270 traveler's portfolio.
The retailer carries only a small segment of the 250-plus products Duluth Pack makes. Target focused on some of the manufacturer's most popular lifestyle items, including its Scout packs, totes, book bags, portfolios, and growler carriers, Hanson said.
Target will be watching and tweaking its new online initiative in coming weeks, according to Bastian.
"It's really a test-and-learn program that we plan to expand on based on what we hear and see, feedback, sales, social media chatter - all of that," she said.
Hanson welcomes the national exposure Target is bringing to Duluth Pack.
"The relationship has been fantastic," he said. "All the folks at Target have been great to work with, and we look forward to what the future brings."