An open letter to Lilly Pulitzer for Target critics
A few days ago Lilly Pulitzer announced its collaboration with Target, sending the blogging world into a frenzy. I immediately texted my Lilly-loving sorority sister, who reacted the same way I had to the news: with joy, elation and pure shock that something so great could happen. Our retail dreams were coming true on April 19, and we were marking our calendars in anticipation.
Meanwhile, others were having a different reaction. Social media is loud with voices appalled that the resort wear brand would partner with a budget retailer. They claim its clientele is beneath Lilly, which will get watered down by availing itself to Target-shopping paupers who can’t tell Shorely Blue Don’t Be Shellfish from Hotty Pink First Impression.
Those fears, besides being embarrassingly elitist, are unfounded. I say embrace this collaboration wholeheartedly, the way LillyPulitzer.com embraces our credit card numbers. Here are the major concerns I’ve read and why they are–seriously–no big deal.
Concern 1: Ordinary people will (gasp!) have access to the Lilly brand. This is not the type of collaboration that will stick around long enough to get branded with gaudy red clearance tags. It will sell out, and fast. And who will buy it up? Existing Lilly fanatics. I doubt it will even sit on shelves long enough for shoppers unfamiliar with the brand to get their hands on it. And if they do, so what? Think of it as more people getting to be inspired that “anything is possible with sunshine and a little pink!”
Take a deep breath. This collaboration is temporary. It will be over as fast as the Lilly Pulitzer Endless Summer sale and will join its ephemeral Target collaboration predecessors (which include names as high end as Neiman Marcus and Missoni).
Concern 2: My Lilly dress won’t be as special now. The collection will include shifts and scarves, but the majority will be home goods. I’d ignore the apparel and focus on the cups! The hammocks! The beach towels! These types of items are rarely available on Lilly’s website, and often only as freebies with purchase. As a Lilly lover, I am excited about expanded home offerings, whether they’re available at Neiman Marcus, Horchow, Garnet Hill, or Target.
Concern 3: Only those who can afford it should be able to wear the brand. Lilly isn’t the extremely elite luxury brand some people seem to think it is. There are plenty of names that are more exclusive. And if you have to wear labels (or prints) to impress others, no amount of designer shifts will give you class. You can’t buy class for $20 at Target and you can’t buy it for $300 at Lilly. Real class comes from pride in yourself independent from the price tag on your clothes. Respecting others regardless of whether they can afford the same things as you–that’s class.
Concern 4: If Lilly were alive, she never would approve of the Lilly Pulitzer Target collaboration! The internet seems to think that this move is a mistake on the part of the Lilly brand. But what if the company’s motivation wasn’t only to introduce Lilly to a new stratification of consumer? I read a blog comment that speculated Lilly for Target was a drama-stirring ploy for a very specific kind of press coverage–bloggers. Well played, Target and Lilly. You win this round.
Let’s enjoy this collaboration for what it is–an iconic, beloved American brand being (temporarily!) expanded upon in a fresh retail setting. If you feel the need to boycott the collaboration out of principle, feel free. More for the rest of us! Enjoy your elitism while I enjoy my adorable, affordable Lilly for Target tumblers and napkins.
What do you think–will Lilly Pulitzer Target dilute the Lilly brand? Will you be shopping the collection April 19?
All photos courtesy of Target