‘She Would Have Loved It,’ Says Lilly Pulitzer’s Palm Beach Family Of Target Line

By Brittany Shammas
Sun Sentinel.

Liza Pulitzer had her eye on brightly colored beach chairs that debuted Sunday as part of the hotly anticipated collaboration between Palm Beach-inspired fashion label Lilly Pulitzer and big-box retailer Target.

But even she — daughter of the company’s iconic namesake — couldn’t get her hands on one.

The line of shift dresses, swimsuits and housewares in eye-popping colors and patterns flew off shelves at stores within minutes of going on sale. Online, shoppers didn’t fare much better: Website issues meant many were unable to make purchases.

“They looked wonderful,” Liza Pulitzer said Monday of the chairs. “I probably would have had to stand in line at 3 in the morning.”

She told the Sun Sentinel she thought her mother, a near-lifelong Palm Beach resident who died in 2013, would have been thrilled to see the excitement surrounding the 250-piece collection. Across the country, Lilly lovers lined up outside Target stores hours before the doors opened at 8 a.m. Sunday. Others stayed up all night in hopes of snagging items online.

“She would have loved the fact that everybody wanted to get something, a piece of Lilly,” said Liza Pulitzer, 58, a Realtor in Palm Beach.

Known for its wild patterns and splashy colors — especially pink and green — the Lilly Pulitzer brand has its roots in Palm Beach. It began in 1959, when women fell in love with the simple, boldly patterned dresses a young Lilly Pulitzer — wife of publishing heir Herbert “Peter” Pulitzer Jr. — made to hide stains from the orange juice she sold for fun.

The company closed in the 1980s, but re-emerged a decade later with a new owner. Now run by Oxford Industries, the brand has become increasingly popular in recent years, with customers embracing its loud prints and its fun-loving, party-throwing namesake’s philosophy that “being happy never goes out of style.”

Much of the enthusiasm about the Target line stemmed from its lower price point. The Target collection included $38 shift dresses, compared to a price tag of about $200 on a Lilly Pulitzer-proper shift.

“I think wearing a Lilly dress and wearing a Lilly print makes people smile, and the fact more people would have the opportunity — I liked that,” Lilly Leas, the 26-year-old granddaughter of Lilly Pulitzer, told the Sun Sentinel. She runs Tradewinds Media Partners in Palm Beach.

The Lilly Pulitzer for Target line went live online early Sunday and was sold out within hours (with one item, a hammock, purchased by Leas, who set an alarm). By 7 a.m., lines had formed outside stores.

Gabrielle Kiger, of Boca Raton, was outside a Target in Vero Beach at 7:15 a.m. About 45 people were ahead of her and by the time 8 a.m. rolled around, about 200 people were waiting, she said.

“When the store finally opened, there was a big stampede of women rushing in,” said Kiger, 25, a producer at Fox Sports Florida. “And everything was pretty much gone in two or three minutes.
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She added: “I think it was worse than Black Friday. They were calling it Pink Sunday.”

A longtime Lilly fan, Kiger managed to grab three dresses and wore one of them to work Monday.

Not everyone was so lucky. Sydnee Brin, of Coral Springs, was out of town for a wedding and couldn’t make it to a Target on Sunday. When she tried to buy online, the collection was sold out.

Brin was frustrated to see Lilly Pulitzer for Target items popping up on eBay carrying prices far above what they had been in stores.

“That defeats the entire purpose,” the 26-year-old physician assistant said. “The whole purpose of Lilly being at Target is so that it’s affordable …The whole point was to be able to get the cute dress for less money.”

Just 1.5 percent of the total Lilly Pulitzer for Target collection was on eBay, Target spokesman Joshua Thomas said. But he added that Target is looking at ways to deal with the issue.

The company also apologized for the online glitches, saying it had caused an “inconsistent experience for our guests.” On its Twitter account, it has said it does not plan to restock.

Both Liza Pulitzer and Lilly Leas said they were disappointed to learn that many who were excited about the collection ended up empty-handed.

Still, despite that — and despite the sold-out chairs — they were happy to see the enthusiasm still commanded by the brand that carries the Lilly Pulitzer name.

“I wish Mom had been here to see it,” Liza Pulitzer said. “She would have loved it.”

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