Lilly Pulitzer for Target: Much Ado About Nothing on the Shelves

Image source: Glitter & Grills

Image source: Glitter & Grills

Lilly Pulitzer is not simply a brand, people. It’s a sun-drenched, poolside lifestyle. So when Target announced its latest design partnership with the iconic American resort wear brand back in January, the news made quite a splash.

The Lilly Pulitzer for Target collection would be the latest upscale collection offered to shoppers at a more affordable price point. Previous designers to work with Target included Philip Lim, Zac Posen, Jason Wu and Missoni. 

I’ve never owned a Lilly piece in my life, but I’ve always thought the prints were fun (in moderation). I wasn’t planning to be part of the Lilly Pulitzer for Target frenzy, when the collection launched in stores on April 19, but curiosity got the best of me. Here’s my minute-by-minute account of the retail launch. 

Sunday, April 19

7:50 a.m. After a big family celebration, my whole family is sleeping in. With one eye open, I check Facebook. I see a friend in St. Louis lamenting about coming home empty-handed from the Lilly launch at Target. 

7:51 a.m. My curiosity is piqued. St. Louis is 2 hours ahead. My neighborhood Target doesn’t even open for a whole 9 minutes. And heck, no one in Seattle even knows what Lilly Pulitzer is! 

7:55 a.m. I grab my keys and head out the door.

8:10 a.m. I pull into the Target parking lot. No crowds. Just one woman slowly walking toward the door, wearing camo sweat pants and carrying her recycled shopping bags. 

8:11 a.m. I gloat to myself thinking I will get ALL. THE. LILLY.

Not so fast. As I enter the store, I see about 10 women zooming through the (otherwise empty) store with carts overflowing with impossibly bright items. If there was a limit on items per customer, no one told these women. It is roughly 12 minutes after the store has opened and they have all but picked the store clean. I walk to the women’s department and the are three dresses left on the rack, all hanging from an XXL hanger. I turn around and see four women standing at the one, small Lily display in the children’s section. I head over to listen to their conversation. Each of the women is holding items that seem to be the wrong size for their needs. But they clutch them tightly, knowing that the moment they put them down someone else will snatch them up.

“I’ll just buy this size 5, I guess,” says one woman holding the cutest white eyelet tank top.

“How old is your daughter?” asks another woman?

“15 months."

The group sees a clerk walking down the aisle and asks him if there is any inventory in the back. He literally laughs. I wander over to house wares — all Lilly items are gone. In cosmetics, there is an end-aisle display with about 4 beach towels, quite a few cosmetic bags and sad number of accessories. I find a few things (I didn’t need, but feel compelled to buy) and then head out. 

I’m in the car and on my way home at 9 am and my own Lilly Pulitzer for Target frenzy is over. And with reports of the collection being sold out in store and online after 1 hour, it's pretty much over for everyone. The Lilly buzz is all over the news and trending on social media. There’s no doubt this collection was a boost for both Target and Lilly Pulitzer. But, frankly, it seemed like a bust for shoppers.