Target, director of merchandising for women’s denim and Universal Thread
Marybeth Mahoney Cahill
Target, director of merchandising for women’s denim and Universal Thread

Deep Dive

Thanks to Marybeth Mahoney Cahill’s eye for on point denim trends and wardrobe solutions, Target has become more than a big box store to its female consumers. It’s also a place to nab the latest denim fit. Since joining the company in 2018, Target’s director of merchandising for women’s denim and Universal Threads has applied her previous experiences with brands like Nautica, Lucky Brand, Ralph Lauren and Gap Inc. to help turn Target into a one-stop-shop for jeans. 

Universal Thread, Target’s first completely size-inclusive lifestyle brand—offers wardrobe-building denim and laidback separates. Target has also grown its partnership with Levi’s, announcing this spring that it would add the heritage brand to 300 more stores. Additionally, to ensure inclusivity was “at the core of the brand,” Cahill and Target designed adaptive jeans that features elements like no back pockets, a stretch waistband and side zippers at the hem for any adaptive needs.

Capturing trends is just one part of her job, however. The Universal Thread team is also working to help close the loop by using Better Cotton Initiative certified cotton, recycled cotton and recycled polyester. The Fair Trade USA certified brand has also contributed to over 30 percent of Target’s total wash water reductions by using optimized wash finishes and utilizing 3D technologies for garment fittings to reduce the number of samples needed. 

“It takes a village to run our business, and I have a truly incredible one,” Mahoney Cahill said. “I am proud of the heart we show for the planet and people when it comes to designing and developing denim.”


What denim buzz word do you think is overused? What would you replace it with?

Sustainability is a common word in our vocabulary today, but it’s a tough word to define. I am a fan of the book “Atomic Habits” by James Clear and his concept of one percent better over time leads to big change. Progress over perfection. I like when companies are transparent, authentic and real about their journey, which is something we strive to do at Target. So, to answer the question, I don’t know what you replace it with. However, maybe it’s about continued dialogue versus just a single word.

What was your most recent denim purchase?

Universal Thread, of course. I just bought our boyfriend and wide-leg denim. What I love is that our denim is on-trend, stylish, responsible and at an affordable price.

Also, I’m a big fan of Agolde and Moussy, and just bought some great pieces from them. However, an absolute favorite denim purchase as of late is the R13 Crossover Jean in the Jasper wash. Chris Leba and the R13 team are incredible when it comes to denim. Amazing fit and wash. I am obsessed and might ask to be buried in them