Sunday, April 19, 2015

Lilly Pulitzer x Target Was a Shitshow (and everyone involved should be embarrassed by it)

After much fanfare and a teeny bit of controversy, the Lilly Pulitzer x Target collection launched today. 


You can read all about here and here and here and probably a million other places.

My experience: I arrived at my local store at around 7:45. I am not a major Lilly fan, so nothing in this collection was a must-have for me. Some of the clothes looked great, and I loved a lot of the home goods. But I wanted to see things in person and take a moment to consider my purchases, so I chose to head to the store rather than try my luck at online shopping (not Target's forte). This was a mistake.

While waiting in a decent but not long line, we were told that quantities were very limited -- for most items, they had ONE in each size. One. ONE! When the doors opened, women made a mad dash and snatched every last dress, romper, dish towel, and folding chair off the racks and shelves. By 8:15, everything was gone. By 8:30, the racks were being disassembled. I'm sorry, but....that shit cray.

These were the items I was hoping to pick up -- guess you didn't want my $250, Target!

I bought nothing, because I didn't feel like beating anyone over the head for a pair of flip flops and I just got turned off by the whole collection as a result of this sad experience. A lot of ink will be spilled over this mess, so I don't want to waste a lot of time on this, but here are my thoughts:

Target really has no idea how to gauge the reaction to their designer collaborations. I don't think they were expecting this (because if they were, they left MILLIONS of dollars on the table by not having enough merchandise), and I think it is because they just don't understand what appeals to their shoppers. Some of their recent designer collaborations have been duds -- I think every single item in the Altazurra collection went to clearance, it was a terrible fit with Target's audience. They don't seem to understand that some elements of designer clothes (great fabrics, expert tailoring, high-fashion silhouettes) don't translate well into a lower-priced garment. But there are elements (like great prints and flattering shapes) that still look great even if you're cutting costs. Missoni and Lilly Pulitzer are perfect examples of this.

The other thing these two brands have in common is that they can work for a wide range of women. Even if you don't consider yourself particularly preppy, you'll probably enjoy having a fun floral dress in your closet for some great little summer shindig. And you can add a happy/fun zigzag knit piece to almost any look. Missoni and Lilly have pretty universal appeal and their designer lines are priced too high for the average consumer, so it should come as no surprise that there is huge demand for lower priced versions of these brands. (Do you hear that, Target? SHOULD COME AS NO SURPRISE. But clearly you were surprised -- why?!?)

What is particularly irritating about the Lilly x Target collection is the amount of hype that has been generated over the past 3 months. We've been reading about this in blogs and magazines since January -- so many outlets breathlessly announced the release of the lookbook, giving us a chance to get excited about a pretty great looking and expansive collection of clothing, accessories, and home goods.

But Target never had the inventory to support this kind of interest. DID I MENTION MY STORE HAD ONLY ONE OF EACH ITEM IN EACH SIZE?!?!?

Target has forgotten a key piece of its original Design For All mission with these collaborations: the "all". Being able to buy great clothing from a big box retailer shouldn't mean hoards of intelligent women are fighting over a polyester maxi dress like people fought for bread in Soviet Russia. 

And worse than that, this debacle really took the fun out of things. These collaborations should be fun for everyone. Fun for designers, who get to think outside the box a bit and reach new customers. Fun for shoppers, who get to enjoy something special at a great price. And fun for Target, who should be enjoying great press and a fire hose of cash flowing freely into its registers. But instead, almost everyone involved is left disappointed and unsatisfied.

Two ideas for the next time around:

1. Hire me to manage your designer collaborations. I could do better than this, no doubt!

2. Bring back Isaac Mizrahi's collection -- seriously, that shit was amazing. 10 years later I still have (and wear) three or four pieces that have held up (in terms of quality and style) beautifully.

Target claims that it will learn from this experience, but only time will tell. If you're unhappy about this, don't hesitate to let Target know...and for the love of god, don't overpay for these things on eBay!

What do you think -- did ANYONE have a good experience with this collection? Do you think this was a savvy strategy or a total catastrofuck?


  1. It sounds like Target's Lilly Pulitzer collection launch was handled the same way their entry into Canada was: lots of hype and excitement, inadequate inventory. Unfortunately they've already left the country, so I didn't get to partake in the release :( Maybe they'll produce more inventory now that they've realize they gauged public interest incorrectly?

    1. Yes, exactly! I've read a bit about the Target x Canada fiasco, shockingly bad execution. They say no more Lilly will be produced, but here's what will happen - they'll make a ton of meechandise for their next designer collab, but will people be interested? Hard to say. Hope they choose the designer well.