A few things we’ve learned from Sunday’s near instantaneous sellout of the limited edition Lilly Pulitzer for Target collection.
1. Ladies love a Palm Beach print. Iconic prints in general do well in these designer collaborations—remember Missoni? Being able to get into an instantly recognizable designer piece for a fraction of the brand’s usual price is exciting, and feels special.
2. Target's website still needs some work. The retailer is better prepared since its epic collapse during Missoni mania, but still falters under extreme traffic. As the Wall Street Journal reported, Target had to delay the online launch due to extreme traffic, and paced visits throughout the morning, which led to shoppers getting blocked . . . and frustrated.
3. People will show up at the actual, physical store before 8 a.m. on a Sunday. Lines were more than 100 deep at some locations. Many stores were wiped out within minutes of opening.
I received a note from a woman who didn’t get any Lilly, despite trying online and running to the store early, saying she thinks it’s “terrible that they didn’t plan accordingly.” But this was precisely the plan, I told her.
Designer collaborations are all about the hype, and Target got that in spades—from the announcement at a New York “beach party” back in January to the build-up on fashion blogs to the star-studded launch party (also in New York) attended by Emmy Rossum, Kate Bosworth, and Camila Alves, among others. Target succeeded in associating itself with a brand perceived as luxurious—creating a fashion moment, and reminding shoppers that those who snooze lose out . . . on floral print dresses and espadrilles.
Along with the intense excitement however, comes disappointment. As one customer posted on my Facebook page: “There’s a difference between creating hype, exciting your customers, and just creating a retailer feeding frenzy, which clearly, this was. I showed up 15 minutes after (store) opening and heard someone say that a few women just grabbed as much as they could and threw it in their carts. Those people live to buy out and resell, and they succeeded.”
Target did not limit the number of Lilly pieces customers could buy in store. Despite a company spokesman expressing disappointment in resellers, the retailer had to know it was going to happen. But I’m guessing they’d take customer disappointment over Lilly on clearance any day.
The best recourse: don’t justify the resellers by paying more than face value for Lilly Pulitzer for Target items. Really, it's not worth it.
If the markup market disappears, so will the hoarding. And when those would-be resellers realize they aren't going to profit off of a designer collaboration, they just might return the goods. Target is limiting returns on Lilly merchandise to 14 days, so be on the lookout for some restocking.