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Influential Women: Jill Sando, Target

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MINNEAPOLIS — The essence of Target’s unique Tar-zhay positioning has always rested in its merchandising and design flair. For almost two decades, much of the credit for that success has gone to Jill Sando, now Target’s chief merchant.

influential womenSando began her retail career with Yonkers Department Store of Des Moines, Iowa. She joined Target as an associate buyer of intimate apparel in 1997 and began her swift ascent within the merchandising team in 2000, when she was appointed senior buyer. After first being promoted to director of merchandise planning in 2003, Sando was named vice president of hard lines product design and development in 2005.

In 2014 Sando was promoted to senior VP of home, which had been identified as one of Target’s five key strategic categories. She led the successful reinvention of the home business, which involved a particular focus on Target’s owned brands in the category.

In the wake of that success, Sando’s portfolio was expanded to include apparel. In 2020 she was elevated to executive VP and chief merchandising officer for style and owned brands, and a year later she was appointed to her current position, with leadership of all hard lines and soft lines merchandising.

Also in 2021, Target unveiled a new sustainability strategy, Target Forward, which builds upon the retailer’s formidable legacy of corporate responsibility and commitment to sustainability. One of the key components of the strategy is to be a market leader in creating and curating inclusive, sustainable brands by 2030.

Jill Sando

Jill Sando

It is no surprise at all that Target merchandising has pursued that goal with its typical flair. In 2022 the company forged an ongoing partnership with Tabitha Brown, actress, New York Times best-selling author and social media phenomenon, that resulted in four limited-time-only product collections that encompass apparel, swim and accessories, home and office, food and kitchenware, and entertaining, among others.

Last year also saw the launch of Future Collective, a first-of-its-kind apparel and accessories brand that features collections developed in partnership with a rotating roster of style and cultural influencers with diverse points of view in fashion. Collections introduced so far include a streetwear-inspired line from Kahlana Barfield Brown, maximalist fashion from Gabriella Karefia-Johnson and, most recently, a summer collection from Alani Noelle that showcases her Puerto Rican heritage with a mix of vivid colors and bold tropical prints.

“Our guests have embraced the on-trend styles found in Future Collective, and we’re proud to introduce our third partner, Alani Noelle,” said Sando. “Alani’s collection reflects her fresh and expressive take on fashion and captures the spirit of summer with bold pieces that allow our guests to celebrate themselves.”

Target also unveiled in 2022 a multiyear partnership with Minneapolis entrepreneur, designer and community builder (and longtime Target partner) Houston White that has produced an exclusive apparel and accessories brand, Houston White x Target. The collection, which includes menswear-inspired blazers, flight suits and other items, is marked by style and swagger. Target recently doubled the number of stores carrying the collection to 400 locations across the country.

“We’re thrilled to expand our partnership with Houston White by offering new styles this season and bringing his assortment to even more stores across the country,” Sando remarked. “Houston’s on-trend pieces reflect his passion for people to find their distinctive looks and express their unique style for work or play — all at great value.”


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