Lilly Pulitzer: Something to POST about

Lilly Pulitizer launched at Target a week ago and the buzz shocked consumers with a cruel sting as many devotees to the queen bee of floral prints sold out online and in stores almost immediately.  In fact the frenzy surrounding Lilly Pulitzer was so crazy that the Target pieces are re-selling on e-bay for prices higher than traditional Lilly dresses.  Oxford Industries, parent company of Lilly is blooming with PR and stock power from the what initially seemed like a risky move of putting a high-end boutique line in Target.  Oxford knew exactly how to generate the buzz to make Lilly garner top fashion talk without compromising the brand’s ‘Veblen’ status (Word of the Day Veblen goods are types of material commodities for which the demand is proportional to its high price, which is an apparent contradiction of the law of demand)

If anything Lilly has more flower power than it had before and it has gotten so much gossip and PR from The Target promotional stint that the floral blitz of fans is flowing over to Lilly’s traditional boutique stores.

I decided to do a follow-up story on Lilly for several reasons.  1)I work in a department store that carries Lilly and I sell Tommy Bahama – another Oxford brand – so I’m naturally interested in how high end does in Target binge quick boutique shopping. 2)I have a business degree with an emphasis in economics and marketing and to me this story is absolutely perfect for a case study in branding, marketing, marketing alliance and distribution…some might argue on distribution – but the brand sold out in only a few hours and there was greater demand than quality which equals success for the seller.

I also wanted to revisit Lilly because I recently read a scathing article in The Washington Post about Lilly Pulitzer and the alliance with Target.  The Post demeans Lilly as just junk clothing for clueless preps (though it does not use that language it doesn’t take much to read through the lines) – they say Lilly Pulitizer herself was never really a fashion designer and just an heiress with time and money to burn. The Post goes on and on about how Lilly is not a fashion brand and this stunt was terrible for fashion.

First things first let’s make something clear – fashion is about style, but fashion is also about trends – fashion is also something that might be foreign in style to one person and define the character of style for another – fashion is a fluid language and it is something you don’t necessarily have to be born out of NYC and Paris to comprehend – in fact I think fashion and style that is too closed off in the elitism fashion circles manages to lose the cutting edge innovation – it is like Latin against the vernacular – Latin is beautiful it has its place, but vernacular prose like street fashion can be equally alluring and exemplary.

The Post says Lilly is great for retail, terrible for fashion…I hate to scar the naive minds out there but retail often drives fashion – style is a little more lasting – and retail is driven by consumers – it is a partnership.  Fashion can be a work of art – but just because it finds a market in retail does not mean it is not ‘fashion’ or a part of the style symphony of the day.  There are nuances – frankly I think a fashion house would rather generate revenue in retail than win accolades and be in debt.

Retail and Fashion are two sides of a coin – I agree sometimes one causes the other problems.  I think retail and fashion should both be held to blame for their lack of focus on making quality homegrown US products.

I think it is a HIPSTER mentality to think – if it sells – it is bad for fashion.

If you don’t like Lilly’s bold prints – I understand – I like her prints because I like color – I have an artist heart and I’m a creative person – also in the south we have warmer weather and they are great outfits for a variety of functions.  Would I wear it every day – no – but to dismiss an icon – a style so distinct that the minute you see it you know ‘That’s a Lilly’ as being ‘bad fashion’ it is a question then of choice.  Lilly in my opinion is an icon of fashion – it is fashion and it is innovative – even in its recurring bright floral prints – no do they do other designs like minimalist and modern dark and grey – NO – but most brands adhere to a style branding.

As retail big box chains consolidate and more commerce from high-end fashion moves to boutiques or high-end department stores more collaborations with the likes of Target and other brands will happen because at the end of the day – fashion is art, style is timeless – but they have to pay the bills – fashion services a need and follows the market trends – style is more complex and often sets trends.

I think when retail is in good shape it helps fashion – when sales are down and consumers are not expanding their wardrobe then less innovative designers are able to get financing and build their brand.

One of my biggest focuses on Adele Belle is American Made – something I also think good retail sales helps expand as consumers demand ethically made goods.

This is fashion for thought and my two cents and a cup of freshly squeezed orange juice – I understand those who disagree, but hey we at least started a conversation.

#FashionreflectsLIFE #ConsumersdriveRetail

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