Lilly Pulitzer collection prompts shopping frenzy at Target, apology from the company

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

(CNN) — Preschool teacher Jacquie Truesdale woke up around 5 a.m. Sunday and walked over to the closest Target in Coral Springs, Florida, around 6:30 a.m.

Her goal? Secure a few items from Target’s collaboration with Lilly Pulitzer, the queen of American resortwear known for her bright, bold patterns.

Truesdale, a Lilly Pulitzer loyalist, arrived with an idea of what she wanted based on sneak peeks of the collection online. When doors opened at 8, she was the second person in the store and made off with a few shift dresses, tote bags, two pillows and a pair of sandals.

She was one of the lucky ones.

Pastel dresses and beach coverups flew off the racks at Target stores Sunday morning as eager shoppers snatched up apparel, accessories and home decor from the limited edition collection.

PHOTO: Target.com

PHOTO: Target.com

Much of the collection was sold out online and in stores within hours of going on sale Sunday morning, drawing ire from Lilly lovers who missed out on the chance to own discounted versions of the brand’s designs.

Target began responding to disgruntled customers via Twitter early Sunday morning, when would-be Target.com shoppers began complaining about website outages and difficulties placing orders. By Sunday afternoon, most items on Target.com were out of stock, forcing the retailer to break the news that no more inventory would be restocked.

“The #LillyforTarget collection is available for a limited-time. We do not anticipate more items becoming available,” the retailer said through its @AskTarget account.

“We are learning from these experiences and sharing with our online and store teams,” the company said in response to another irate customer.

The 250-piece collection features items in 15 exclusive prints at attractive prices compared to other stores. Lilly’s signature sleeveless, collarless shift for adults currently retails from $180 to $300; the Target version is available for $38. Target’s Lilly bikinis are priced at $48 for the top and bottom, compared to $136 for the two pieces.

Lines started forming as early as 5 a.m. outside Target stores across the country for the colorful collection. Pictures on social media showed lines extending into parking lots. Other images showed racks completely emptied of inventory within minutes of doors opening.

Online shoppers started visiting Target.com at midnight only to find the site was down. Others complained of being unable to add items to their carts or that by the time they made it to checkout, the items were no longer unavailable

Target often teams up with high-end designers to create limited edition fashion lines. The collections, from designers such as Alexander McQueen, Prabal Gurung (a favorite of Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge), and Jason Wu (who designed one of Michelle Obama’s inaugural gowns), tend to create lots of buzz and sell out within hours.

Pulitzer herself died in 2013 at the age of 81, but the brand lives on. Her shift dresses became a signature of the Palm Beach, Florida, party set after she starting selling them from a juice stand in 1959.

The classic shift is a favorite of Truesdale’s. She usually shops Lilly when it goes on sale and was curious to see whether the Target capsule would stand up in quality.

So far, the fabric and hardware seem comparable to the full-priced items, she said.

“I love her stuff, I love the prints so if I can get something for less, I’ll go.”

That’s why she planned in advance and got up early: “I figured it would sell out quickly.”

1 Comment

  • Marilynn

    I love Lily Pulitzer clothes! I am very disappointed at the way The Target Corporation handled this collection. This reminded me of being in a communist country when they set an item out for sale and you could not buy the whole set. I think this was terrible for the average person. To have clothing items only one of each size in a large store. People that live in smaller community that don’t have a Target store in their area and have to rely on shopping online,only to find out they could not purchase any of the items! Then doing the sale in the dead of night when people are sleeping is totally un American. Some of the people that were able purchase the items had the intention of selling them on eBay for three times as much!! There should be enough supply that miost people are able to make the purchase they want. I am just an average person living in small town America and was not able to make a single purchase!!This experience makes a person so angry that they would never want to shop at any TARGET again be it a store or online!!

Comments are closed.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.