I’m not sure anyone could have predicted the madness—the sheer intensity of the late-summer romance between fast-fashion-hungry shoppers and Missoni’s line for Target.

From Manhattan to Memphis, the blink-and-it-was-gone pop-up collection from the Italian luxury goods maker was a hit beyond Target’s wildest dreams—testing the mettle and resourcefulness of fashion-forward gals, even celebrities (@jessicaalba), who were so determined to get their hands on the iconic zigzag on bicycles, bedding, bikinis, baby clothes, that they crashed the retailer’s website and bulldozed product from store shelves after waiting in line for hours to get access.

Adding fever to the frenzy, procurers of the prized goods took to eBay in droves and gouged those who had missed the window, pricing items several times higher than original retail. Wow. Pop-ups are clearly bringing shoppers some desperately wanted sex appeal and risk-free fun in a dark economic marketplace.

But in such a tepid economy, was it really worth millions of marketing dollars to bring all these fashion-focused women into Target if they don’t come back and bring their friends. Who were these rabid brand fans? And will they return through Target’s doors once the Italians have left the building?

We’ll see over the next year whether Missoni really produced new customers for the retailer. Target has obviously been doing this for a while, but this is the first time a high-end brand partner created such a comprehensive collection across product categories. 

Even if you don’t care about fashion, you have to wonder what this says about brands in general. Though I’ve seen women turn up their noses at these collabs (questioning quality of materials and production values), there have been rollicking successes. It’s a testament to the power of the Missoni brand that the woman who drives a Range Rover and the one who drives a Honda were intrigued enough to storm the stores.

But will both of them return to Target next week, next month? Will either become a high-value customer, or even an occasional shopper? In times like these, becoming a transcendent brand is no small feat. Transcendent brands know how to reach everyone and offer something for all. Missoni and Target are brands that can do just that—like Apple, McDonald’s and Nike.

The brand-loyal found it fun to be able to buy from a favorite designer yet still make their September mortgage payment, and those unfamiliar with Missoni were offered an affordable way to experiment with the brand’s patterns in their wardrobes and homes.

Will Fiat achieve such transcendence with the launch of its zippy new 500, manufactured by Chrysler? The asking price is well below $20K. It could be the small car to watch amid talk of renewed economic woes and double dipping, as America keeps trying to reclaim some piece of our dream. The Fiat brand is stylish, classic and modern, so this car feels just right for these times, with authenticity, luxury and cool cred at an affordable price.

Who will be next? Well, there’s talk of Maserati partnering with Jeep on an SUV. The Italians are certainly having a moment here. Are we simply craving a bit of la dolce vita in stressful times?

The smart money will be on transcendent brands that can bypass their ego, stay true to their values and focus on customer satisfaction at every price point, giving us a little piece of the good life, which Missoni and Target (tech meltdown aside) achieved last week. Given a second chance, I’d probably set my alarm for the wee hours and start clicking Refresh. (#reallywantedthatbike)