When Target released its Lilly Pulitzer for Target collection on Sunday morning, the Internet just about lost its mind.
Shoppers lined up in the middle of the night, dreaming of grabbing some of the clothing, accessories, and housewares from the 250-piece collection. But once they were inside the store, the racks were picked over almost immediately. While some retailers put purchasing limits on special collections, Target does not.
Even bigger problems occurred online. The 3 a.m. release of the collection was delayed, NBC News reported. Then the site was shut down completely. Only a fraction of shoppers were able to access the collection, and some people who actually got through to checkout were faced with error messages after they tried to place their orders.
But by Sunday’s end, the Lilly racks were clear and and eBay was filling with highly marked-up items from the collection.
Why Does Everyone Want Lilly Pulitzer for Target?
Even after 50-plus years, Lilly Pulitzer clothing pops with Southern charm. The brand’s bright prints and cheerful colors are ideal for summer fun, but also come with price tags best suited for the country-club set.
And who wouldn’t want to buy a dress or top from their favorite designer when Target makes it available for a dramatically lower price?
But a major disappointment of Target’s designer collaborations — besides its online shopping problems — is quality. Shoppers get excited when they hear their favorite designer is coming to Target, but they often expect the quality to match the main brand. Coveted labels are typically produced in speciality ateliers, and even those high-end designers who manufacture in China are paying for the most experienced labor the country has to offer.
Target’s collaboration offerings don’t live up to those standards, and customers’ expectations of luxury are often dampened by poor fits or flimsy fabric.
The Washington Post’s Robin Givhan shared a level of Lilly Pulitzer hate that may be a bit over the top, but she’s no fool when it comes to recognizing quality:
Target created a feeding frenzy of shoppers lured by cheap versions of A-line sheaths that are mostly distinguished by their swirling, colorful prints rather than by silhouette, fabric, craftsmanship or creativity. The massive lines, crashing Web sites and lust-filled tweets under #LillyForTarget are less proof of shoppers’ discerning taste than evidence that folks love a whiff of leisure-class exclusivity, a brand name and a bargain — however that might be defined.
Twelve Years of Target Collaborations
Target’s collaboration with high-end designers isn’t new; its high-low partnerships started in 2003, when Isaac Mizrahi first signed up to make a capsule collection for the megastore. As these special collections have evolved over the years, reeling in designers like Rodarte, Proenza Schouler, and Missoni, shoppers’ desire for limited edition items has grown to a frenzy.
The 2012 Missoni collection, which offered 400 items, beat even Black Friday and Cyber Monday online sales expectations for Target, and crashed its website.
Target expected stock of the Lilly Pulitzer collection to last for weeks, according to Target exec Kathee Tesija. Since it’s a limited collection, styles won’t be reordered.
How to Get the Lilly Pulitzer Look for Less
Here’s the truth about the Lilly Pulitzer products piling up on eBay: they’re sometimes listed at a high markup, but the items that are actually selling have been offered at prices close to what you would have found in Target stores.
Resellers often have big dreams of carting home all the collaboration pieces they can carry and making a bit profit. But shoppers on a Target budget aren’t going to fall for an item that’s listed on eBay for $150 when it sold at the megastore for $49.99.
So if you’re eager to get your hands on Lilly Pulitzer for Target, eBay is worth a shot.
And if you want to buy some real Lilly Pulitzer items, without forking over $200-$400 for a dress? Here are a few ways to get a bargain:
- Visit local consignment stores. Consignment sellers know what’s popular at any given moment, and they’re sure to have their Lilly Pulitzer items front and center on the sales floor. Even smarter shopkeepers are posting pictures of their Lilly offerings on social media, so don’t forget to check the Instagram or Pinterest of your favorite consignment shop. And you can always call before making the trip to check on selection or get an idea of the sizes available.
- Check vintage shops. Lilly Pulitzer was founded in 1959, which means the web is filled with iconic vintage pieces from the brand. Check Etsy and ask your local vintage shops whether they have any Lilly looks for summer.If you’re an eBay shopper, it’s best to wait a few weeks before looking for vintage Lilly. If you start searching now, those overpriced Lilly for Target items will flood your results instead!
- Investigate estate sales. Lilly Pulitzer is popular with a wide age range. To put it gently: the deceased or otherwise downsizing might have closets packed with Lilly and similar designers.If an estate seller has a closetful, they’ll share that info in their sale advertisements, and even if they don’t, it might be worth visiting a clothing-heavy sale to look around.
Your Turn: What do you think of the madness around Lilly Pulitzer for Target? Got any other ideas for where we might find these designer clothes for less?
Lisa Rowan is a writer, shop owner, and podcaster living in Washington, D.C.