Lilly Pulitzer for Target causes retail frenzy across the nation



Jessica Murphy

You saw it, and then you lost it. 

The debut of the preppy, Palm-beach inspired fashion line of Lilly Pulitzer’s collaboration with Target was released this past week- but chances are you knew no one who actually got any merchandise. 

The collaboration, which featured a 250-piece collection, offered the classic, iconic prints of the Lilly Pulitzer brand for a fraction of the price at Target. Normally, a dress at the boutique would sell for around $200. At Target, the sale price is around $40. 

Hundreds of waiting customers shopped the look book and picked out exactly what they wanted, dedicating time to wake up to numerous alarms to get on the website at the time of release, or devoting hours to wait outside the store. Everyone knew that the collection was going to be popular….but the not sell out in only minutes kind of popular. 

The demand was so high for the line that the company’s website crashed in only a few hours, with most pieces selling out in under that timeframe. In-store, the stock was completely cleaned out by mid-morning of the release.

Apparently, Target didn’t see this coming either. Despite reports of the merchandise team monitoring social media to gauge the popularity of the upcoming release, estimates were far from the outcome. 

According to Kathee Tesija, chief merchandising and supply chain officer for Target, they expected the line to last for weeks, not minutes. 

This mistake seemed costly judging from the fury of tweets and complaints sent to Target from those who were left with nothing. Adding to customer frustration is Target’s refusal to restock any pieces of the line, crushing the little hope we had left due to its limited edition agreement. 

While you can’t find any Lilly Pulitzer in Target anymore, the next option is to go to eBay. Internet trolls went to the popular buying and selling site in hopes to sell pieces of collection—most with marks ups over three times from selling price at the store. Over 37,000 items from the collection appeared on eBay, but while that number may seem significant, it was only 1.5 percent of the total merchandise inventory. 

However, the whole point of the more affordable designer look was meaningless as the asking price on Ebay was around the same as shopping at the actual Lilly Pulitzer store.

Despite overwhelming criticism of the collaboration, the Lilly for Target line was far from a failure. Yes, Target did underestimate their stock, but from a branding point of view, buzz was created for not only the retailer but the fashion line as well. It adds a sense of fun and excitement to keep Target’s customers who love fashion but at affordable prices loyal to the company. Lilly Pulitzer’s website saw traffic comparable to Cyber Monday. 

Lilly for Target just adds another notable, popular designer partnership to add to the list that Target has worked with. The superstore has collaborated with legendary brands such as the Italian label Missoni in 2011, and Jason Wu in 2012. 

All partnerships have been highly successful, and while this one had its mistakes, it is hard to state that selling out deems it a failure, at least from a business standpoint.

All of these designer collections are intended to sell out, and that adds the appeal. Because really, who doesn’t love a brand name at a bargain? It adds a sense of exclusiveness on a mass scale. 

So while customers around the world are still holding a little bit of a grudge towards Lilly for Target, judging by their history the big name company is sure to announce another great partnership eventually. However, next time around, let’s hope they have enough inventory to at least last a week.