The morning sun had yet to rise in Fredericksburg, Virginia, but that did not stop the 50 plus shoppers from gathering outside Target’s locked doors. Women and children stood together in a neat line, waiting anxiously for the doors to open. As the clock struck 8 a.m., these polite individuals turned to into a group of shopping maniacs on a mission.
This was the scene that greeted shoppers on April 19, when Target revealed the much anticipated Lilly Pulitzer for Target collection. The 250 piece collection sold out in minutes as crowds of women pushed their way through the store, grabbing everything they could shove into their cart.
The Lilly Pulitzer for Target collection featured affordable women’s wear, children’s wear, plus size clothes, house decor, and even make up customized in Pulitzer’s signature bright patterns that make you want to pack up a suitcase and dash to the beach.
Freshman Mary Catherine High is “looking forward to buying Lilly for Target this summer,” but is unsure of what she will be able to find “since it was so popular.”
Living in Singapore, I was far away from the commotion. Without a Target in sight, my family had to plan far in advance to buy the Lilly for Target pieces. We recruited my grandmother, who lives in the U.S., to purchase the items. She set out at 5 a.m. sharp and drove to a specific, less popular Target in Fredericksburg, Virginia, just so she could beat the crowds in the city.
But my grandmother missed her morning sleep for nothing. Although she was 10th in line, the shoppers in front of her aggressively scavenged through the store. The ladies shoved everything from small children’s dresses to plus size items into their carts. By the time my grandmother made it into the store, “it was cleared out.” Everything from the scarves to the shoes were gone.
Many other shoppers were disappointed when they left the stores empty handed. Online shoppers were also out of luck, as the website crashed within minutes.
Since the opening of the collection, people have shared their frustration over the lack of stock Target carried. Evidence of this frustration can be found on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. One user tweeted after the brand launched: “Raise your hand if you have ever been personally victimized by a Lilly Pulitzer online sale.”
The customers weren’t angry because they didn’t like the collection. They were upset over their inability to purchase items from a collection that had been highly anticipated for months.
As a huge fan and owner of Lilly Pulitzer clothing, I wondered why this brand caused such a commotion? What makes Lilly for Target so popular? I have a few ideas.
Lilly Pulitzer is not just a clothing brand, it is a brand selling a certain lifestyle. As the Washington Post put it, “Lilly Pulitzer represents something that money can’t buy.”
Although Lilly isn’t known for being trendy or in style, their clothing gives off an attitude of sophistication and class. Lilly Pulitzer caters to the preppy, country club lifestyle. In 1959, Lilly Pulitzer famously began the brand while running a juice stand in palm beach. Soon after the launch, she began dressing glamorous socialites such as Jackie Kennedy and the Rockefellers in her signature conservatively constructed clothes made with bright, tropical patterns.
A typical Lilly dress retails at around $200, whereas the Target version sells for around $40. While Lilly Pulitzer clothes might not be as expensive as a Gucci bag or a Channel top, they are hardly affordable. That is why Target was the perfect platform for selling Lilly Pulitzer clothes.
Target cleverly markets designer clothing and makes the brand more appealing to the “average customer” by selling the pieces for affordable prices. Lilly for Target allowed more people access not just to a brand, but a lifestyle. A lifestyle that screams composure and elegance.
High believes the collection “sold out so quickly” because the brand is very cute and usually expensive, “so when it arrived at Target, people got excited as the prices went down.”
Lilly for Target was also popular because of the mass marketing that occurred before the brand launched. Social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook allowed news about the highly anticipated collection to spread around the globe quickly.
The Lilly Pulitzer Instagram account, with over 437,000 followers, shared sneak peek previews of pieces from the collection. Similarly, Target shared a “look book” on their website so customers could preview items. Social media allowed the collection to be broadcasted to a wide range of people
On the day of the launch, social media blew up over the brand. Senior Katie Judson remembers her “social media newsfeed filling up with photos of people in the U.S. lining up to go” purchase the collection.
Which means people all the way in Singapore, like Judson and I, were able to know exactly what was going on with the sale, even though we were thousands of miles away.
The Lilly for Target collection was also popular because of the brand’s long standing reputation. Judson, who wears Pulitzer’s designs, says she isn’t afraid to spend money on Lilly Pulitzer because she knows “it will always be great quality.” Although the brand was “cheapened” in order to appeal to the masses, people were still interested in purchasing the clothes.
In fact, the Target collection completely sold out online and in stores, but is available on sites like eBay and Craigslist. Many of the people who snagged pieces from the collection turned around and sold their items online for a higher price. For example, the plus size shift dress was sold for only $38 at Target but an eBay user is selling it for $379
Why would someone pay $379 for a cheaper version of Lilly Pulitzer when they can buy an authentic, real Pulitzer piece for the same price? Clearly people are willing to do whatever it takes to own an item from the Lilly for Target collection.
For those of us heading to the U.S. this summer, Target is a great option for purchasing a variety of affordable, stylish clothing. Unfortunately, the Lilly for Target collection will not be in your shopping cart. While a few lucky shoppers left the store with some Lilly treasures, most went empty handed. But one thing’s for sure, Target and Lilly Pulitzer were the real winners.