New York Fashion Week wrapped up last week with some surprising retailers making a big splash during the September series of events. Familiar names including Michael Kors (NYSE:KORS), Coach (NYSE:TPR), and even discount retailer Target (NYSE:TGT) stole the show with star-studded events and designer launch parties. Here's how these retailers used New York Fashion Week to promote brand awareness and their spring 2015 collections.

Right on Target
Target turned heads in the Big Apple last week at a celebrity filled launch party for its upcoming designer collaboration with Joseph Altuzarra. A-list celebrities including Keri Russell and Naomi Watts came out to support the discount retail chain and namesake designer Joseph Altuzarra. The event created a lot of buzz around the "Altuzarra for Target" apparel, shoes, and accessories collection, which hit Target stores in the U.S. and Canada on Sept. 14.

Using New York Fashion Week to get the media and consumers talking about its exclusive designer line before the merchandise goes on sale is a smart strategy that should pay off for Target. Past designer collaborations with brands such as Missoni and Jason Wu have sold out in hours. Consumers want high fashion at affordable prices and that's what Target plans to give them. The Altuzarra line will include 50 items ranging from an embroidered dress for $54.99 to ankle strap shoes for $39.99. Nonetheless, Target wasn't the only mainstream retailer to leave its mark at New York Fashion Week.

Rivals face off
Arch-enemies Coach and Kors also got people talking with two very different spring looks. Michael Kors impressed onlookers with a ready to wear spring collection that was equal parts feminine and sporty. The Twitter-sphere was blowing up with comments of admiration toward Kors belted dress styles and floral print looks during and after the designer's runway show. In fact, Michael Kors was the "most tweeted-about designer" during New York Fashion Week, according to the New York Times -- with about 113,000 Twitter mentions that week.

Kors classic look at NYFW. Source: Michael Kors.

Coach presented an edgier look at its runway show with everything from fuzzy jackets to "flatform" shoes (think the chunky cousin of the classic platform pump). While Kors was clearly going for a classic and grown-up vibe, Coach's new creative director Stuart Vevers appears to be targeting a younger crowd of quirky outsiders. It is refreshing to see Coach's brand gain some personality.

Particularly because the retailer suffered through an identity crisis last year as it struggled to keep up with fast-growing competitors like Kors. It now appears that Coach wants to differentiate itself from Kors. Under Vevers' new direction, the brand is targeting a very specific type of customer: young and edgy. This could be a smart plan for Coach if it is able to gain a loyal following of young hipsters because it will no longer only be competing for the same customer base as Michael Kors.

A younger vibe from Coach at NYFW. Source: Coach.

Here's how Vevers described his new vision for Coach's brand in a recent interview with Harpers Bazaar. "I kind of started a bit with a New York City reference, of this melting pot of subcultures you know a bit of a music girl, a bit of skate girl, a bit of a surf girl -- and these things come together to get a spontaneous way of putting a look together," Vevers told the magazine.

If the goal was to standout from rivals at New York Fashion Week, Coach certainly achieved that. Only time will tell whether Coach's new spring look will be a hit with consumers. But for now, it is encouraging to see Coach reinvigorate buzz around its brand. From Coach using the iconic Fashion Week to showoff new sides of its brand to Target's exclusive designer launch party and Kors social media bonanza, these were three of the top retailers to hit the runway during fashion's most important week.

Tamara Rutter owns shares of Target. The Motley Fool recommends Coach and Michael Kors Holdings. The Motley Fool owns shares of Coach and Michael Kors Holdings. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.