Lilly Pulitzer is on TARGET

Lilly Pulitizer made orange juice out of oranges – literally.  While running a juice stand at her husband’s orange grove in Florida, Lilly grew tired of the juice staining her dresses.  She decided to create bright colored outfits to ‘hide’ the stains.  Got to LOVE it – true classic style is clothing that serves a purpose and in serving a purpose becomes a piece you cannot live without.  Innovation always starts with a spark of practicality.  Customers soon became more interested in buying Lilly’s dresses and she gave up orange juice for Fashion…

Now Target and Lilly Pulitzer are embarking on a cutting-edge retail play – Lilly Pulitizer – a high end boutique brand is coming to Target, a struggling big box chain.  Lilly is all about customer loyalty, Target has had backlash from loyal customers over product selection and missed cues on industry trends and consumer demand – can Lilly be the orange that squeezes Target into a fresh spark of retail creativity?

Lilly Pulitzer for Target logo with a printed background

I have always adored Lilly Pulitzer.  The bright colors are a symphony of beach waves crashing into the sand, dancing in the moonlight Carolina sort of summer night.  As an artist I love the brand’s unique designs, dynamic risk taking color combinations and signature laid back sophisticated style.  Lilly is an icon of style – owning its own style genre of fashion in the Lilly Dress – ‘Preppy Beach Palm Sophisticate.’   Lilly’s brand is built on a foundation of quality – sure fashionistas can get behind a bright floral A-line dress one in a blue – moon – what makes Lilly special is its dedication to quality – pieces that in spite of bold prints, you never tire of.  Lilly Pulitzer clothing stays with you season to season.  I know many pass their favorite pieces down to loved ones or second-hand consignment shops where the print finds new life.  Lilly has mastered the complex and almost impossible art of taking simple colors, mingling with over the top designs – to merge classic and modern preppy chic – high fashion/high art meets a culture of color everyone can get around.

Love it!  Timeless Southern Coastal Prep, laid back sophisticate – part of Target’s April Lilly collection

I work at a department store that is one of the highest grossing stores for Lilly Pulitizer sales; my department Tommy Bahama is owned by Lilly’s parent company – Oxford Industries.  Both Tommy Bahama and Lilly Pulitizer are niche designers specializing in coastal inspired designs with mass market appeal. Lilly Pulitizer caters to the classic southern prep/coastal island prep – in my home state of North Carolina – color is a passion in fashion.  Color is all around us in the south, inspiring our wardrobes to mimic the fire dance of natural color from spring and summer blooms and reflect the culture warm sun-drenched days, shagging on a dock to a beach music band, and toasting cocktails at a garden party.  Lilly is part of the culture of the south.

Knowing Lilly’s penchant as a ‘high fashion’ brand – focusing on quality and a price tag to match its ideals as its brand culture, I was shocked when I learned that Lilly Pulitzer struck a deal with a struggling Target chain that has seen sales sloop and controversy over hacking of credit card information.

Lilly is known by its reputation as an exclusive brand.  It is a brand where pieces run over $100 and is ALWAYS excluded from coupons.  Lilly has cause for this – the quality is superb and they know their buyer will pay extra to get the prints they want.  Lilly is a fashion village of sorts, with a community of shoppers who support the brand and live its lifestyle.  There is a reason when you purchase a Lilly that it is a ‘status’ symbol – the brand’s iconic designs and quality live up to their reputation.  Customers pay more for Lilly because it’s style is so iconic – that you instantly put on a Lilly dress and colors tell a story.  Everyone knows Lilly at first sight.  It is unique and vibrant, classy, forward, risk-taking and chic.

Given its exclusivity – I still am shocked that Lilly has created a lower priced line for Target.  As a consumer – I am jumping for joy – lower prices means I can add more Lilly to my life and more fashionistas can enjoy the clothing style without breaking their wallets.  From my business background – I think this is a HUGE gamble where Target has everything to WIN and Lilly could lose the iron clad diamonds of their ‘exclusive’ brand – because some argue the less supply, higher cost of product the more money you are worth.  Lilly has such a loyal fan base growing their line into multi-channel distribution beyond the high-profile department store and small boutique is no man’s land.

I applaud Lilly for taking the risk.  Any business, even Lilly Pulitizer can always benefit from growing their consumer base.  The quality at Target will be decent but not up to the standards of the boutique Palm shops – so the high-end customer won’t be deterred from shopping traditional Lilly.  The buzz about Lilly in Target has been great PR for the company – with their look book launching #1 on facebook – while this is much needed buzz for Target, the emphasis is more on Lilly’s designs than the retailer ‘Tres chic.’  The boutique at Target is a fast fashion quick promotion – so this enhances the demand – and sales will skyrocket.  Perhaps Oxford Industries is on the cutting edge of the new wave of fashion promotion and distribution in a quickly changing world of retail.

The biggest news out of the Lilly LOOK BOOK is that Lilly @ Target will carry Plus Style Women’s Clothing.  I am over the moon.  As a size 16 big-boned athletic with an air of so-prep I am excited to wear a brand I love – but until now was forced to have dressy envy over.  MY BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT is that Target is only selling Plus Sizes online – Target is notorious for NOT carrying plus sizes – which is a shame because a huge demographic for Target is late-20s-50s working women and mothers who are not toothpick skinny.

I hope Lilly Pulitzer is ready to add Plus Styles to their own Palm Avenue and Belk/Boutique store shelves.  I will discuss Target’s Plus Size fashion in a future Adele/Style+ (our AB guide to plus sized fashion)

I’ll admit I went from being ‘Oh my GOODNESS I LOVE Target’ – I’m talking pure adoration here – to uggh – Target, they don’t have anything on their shelves.

Target needs Lilly Pulitzer – it needs this promotion to bring back the creative, colorful spirit that made the Red Dot always hit the mark – Target needs to win back consumer trust and navigate a company comeback after a series of horrible business decisions and a credit card scandal – that still feels unresolved to me.  Target has not tried to win back, or fight for its customers.  Lilly is the Color BURST heart lily beat it needs.  Will it work?  Lilly will succeed at Target.  Target on the other hand needs to keep its eye on the mark – finding a balance between cutting edge and staple sustainability-brand identity.  Target cannot keep clutching old patterns, they need to stay fresh, all the while – they cannot risk being so cutting edge their forgo critical demo markets and supplier/consumer chain needs for the store.  I think a big lack is home goods that made them famous and also a lack of Plus Size and Men’s Clothing.

Lilly is on TARGET will Target stay on point?

Update:  Lilly @ Target launched today and it was a MADHOUSE – I heard reports from the field that Targets were packed and in a frenzy – Lilly is sold out in most stores and online – meaning blockbuster publicity for Lilly that only amplified Lilly and parent company OXFORD Industries brand power.  Target is seeing a resurgence from this – but they need to keep innovation in the RED DOT – Target has lost its creative spark – this helps ignite a flicker – Target needs to be creatively fierce as it redevelops its brand.

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