Rowing Blazers, the irreverent New York prep label, started out with a streetwear mentality. Since launching in 2017, RB has hawked Ivy League classics like colorful rugby shirts and oxford button-downs—but according to founder Jack Carlson, his brand strategy was borrowed directly from the likes of streetwear brands like Supreme, Noah, and Palace. In particular, Rowing Blazers has built a reputation as an eager collaborator, pumping out a near-constant stream of projects with the likes of Seiko, Gucci, Sperry, and the stalwart New York bar Harry’s. Now, Rowing Blazers has landed its biggest fish yet: none other than mega-retailer Target.
“It’s an opportunity that I never really dreamed of in a million years,” said Carlson, who has relatives in the Midwest and pronounces the store’s name in the traditional Turr-get. The Rowing Blazers x Target line will be the former’s most expansive collection yet, spanning over 100 items and extending into categories far beyond clothing. The first images of the collection, which will be released fully in late September, depict Rowing Blazers’ typical high-style prep: loud-patterned suits, bright-toned rugbies, and a sweatshirt with the word “KINDNESS” arched across the front, like the logo of a fancy college that I definitely didn’t even bother applying to.
What excites Carlson the most, though, is the opportunity to expand the Rowing Blazers universe. Through the Target collaboration, Rowing Blazers is pushing into entirely new realms: childrenswear, pet gear, home decor, outdoor games, furniture—even a full ping pong table. “I get to just have my creative vision,” Carlson says, “and not have the constraints of, ‘Well, we could never afford to do this,’ or, ‘We don’t know how to make whatever category.’” In one campaign image, you can spot some of these new accessories: a striped football made to spiral across a quad, a late-night table tennis paddle, a cheery pennant.
The partnership between Target and Rowing Blazers has been gestating for over a year. Carlson was excited to receive the initial email from Target, but he didn’t get his hopes too high about his brand landing in the retailer’s stores across the nation. Target executives stressed that this was merely an exploratory meeting, the kind that the big-box chain had with many designers. But then the retailer sent Carlson a second email confirming their interest in an official collaboration. “I was freaking out,” Carlson said. Rowing Blazers is joining the ranks of Target’s many high-profile designer collaborators, including Proenza Schouler, Sandy Liang, Lilly Pulitzer, and Phillip Lim.