Lily Pulitzer prints fly off Target shelves, leave many shoppers wanting more

(Illustration by Sonia Kumar)

Target has been well known for its designer collaborations from Missoni, Rodarte, Altuzarra, 3.1 Phillip Lim and (the latest) Lilly Pulitzer. Before the Lilly Pulitzer collaboration, however, Target’s designer collections have been on a decline since the Neiman Marcus Holiday fiasco.

According to the May 20, 2014 SC Times article “Target Faces Identity Crisis in Midst of Profit Decline,” Target has “tripped up on some of its designer collaborations. During the holiday 2012 season, its collaboration with posh retailer Neiman Marcus turned out to be a dud as the merchandise was criticized for being too expensive, among other things.”

On the other hand, the Lilly Pulitzer’s collection’s success surpassed all expectations. Instead of easy, breezy browsing, the Target website crashed due to the excitement. Some orders were even able to be made before the 7 a.m. opening windows. Lines were wrapped around the stores, racks were emptied in mere minutes and many were left upset with nothing to take home.

“I liked all the bright colors and new fun-summer-garden-party theme,” Marisa Sotelo, junior in industrial engineering said, “I wanted the gold pineapple sanders and the lawn chairs. I was very upset that they sold out so quickly, but it was a little expected.”

What makes the situation even more frustrating is that there are at least 26,000 Lilly for Target items on eBay, according to an April 21 article on Racked. Although this translates to only 1.5 percent of the collection, it still leaves customers frustrated with the high markups. To give you an idea, the $30 coffee mug set I wanted ranged anywhere from $60-$130 on eBay.

What makes this collection so different from normal Target collections is that the collection actually looks like the designer, and the prices were affordable for the quality of the pieces.

“I own a few things from Lilly Pulitzer and I like most of the items they have,” Holly Audiss, junior in mass communications, said. “I think it’s really great that they made a line for Target, because it is normally really high priced and it’s great more people can afford it.”

Previous designer collaborations, like the notorious Neiman Marcus collection, failed because designers were selling items they weren’t known for at extremely high prices. Carolina Herrera sold stationary, Derek Lam sold a skateboard and even Jason Wu (known for Michelle Obama’s inaugural gown) sold ornaments at $49.99 for a set of three.

According to the Jan. 2, 2013 Time Magazine article “Epic Retail Fail: Where Did the Target + Neiman Marcus Collection Go Wrong?,” some Target shoppers complained that “designers like Tory Burch and Diane von Furstenberg, known for their distinctive clothes, turned out thermoses and yoga mats (respectively), instead. And aside from a tote many bloggers criticized as looking and feeling cheap despite an $80 price tag, Oscar de la Renta — who outfits celebrities in red-carpet looks — offered pet accessories: dog bowls and rhinestone collars.”

The Lilly Pulitzer dresses sold at Target are very close to signature Lilly prints and look very similar to the high-end dresses Jackie O. used to wear.

Hannah Yeoman, sophomore in fisheries and wildlife conservation, said she’s been a longtime Lilly lover, loving the bright colors and irresistibly pretty patterns.

“I was pleasantly surprised by the Lilly Pulitzer Target collection,” Yeoman said. “I thought they would sell things that would like kind of boring and wouldn’t have the signature type of ‘Lilly Patterns,’ but much to my surprise everything was very cute and well thought out.”

Yeoman said that she had wanted to get her hands on the strapless jumpsuits, the high-waisted bikini bottoms and the hammock

The housewares are also atypical for Lilly Pullitzer’s brand as they are not a section on its website, but did very well with customers. The social media for this campaign was also blown up with commercials featuring Bella Thorne, Nick Young, and Sex & the City’s Chris Noth. Even the #LillyForTarget hashtag has prevailed.

Moreover, there are 250 pieces in this collection ranging from hammocks, housewares, Lilly dresses, jewelry and even shoes. In the April 16 Her Campus article “An Inside Look at Lilly Pulitzer for Target,” Jeff Jones, Target’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer said, “It truly has something for everyone at many different prices.

Although the reaction to the collaboration was unprecedented, Target has gained valuable insight on how to deal with another collection as big as this one. Hopefully eBay sellers will lower their ridiculous prices and allow those who want to dabble in Lilly Pulitzer to do so, or we’ll be forced to be a part of 7 a.m. lines too.