Talk about a rush.
On Sunday, thousands of shoppers lined up outside of Target stores across the country to get their hands on the discount retailer’s latest fashion collaboration with Lilly Pulitzer.
As the doors opened at 8am, everything was gone within hours (in some places, a matter of minutes) while a flood of online shoppers caused Target’s website to crash.
“By 9:30am at one Target location, there was a sad-looking size large bathing suit bottom sitting on an empty rack,” Brian Sozzi, a retail analyst and CEO of Belus Capital Advisor, told Forbes. “By 10:15am at another Target, a shelf for Lilly cosmetics looked like it had been attacked by hungry wolves.”
The 250-piece collection, which included Pulitzer’s distinctive neon prints, ranged from swimwear and lounge chairs to dressesand cosmetics all characteristic of her Palm Beach aesthetic. The collection even expanded into plus-size and toddler sizes.
Lilly Pulitzer, a prominent socialite who passed away in 2013, began her empire in 1959 while running a fruit juice stand. The story goes that she needed a way to hide the stains from the juices so she made herself shift dresses from cotton prints. People started asking where to buy the designs.
Soon, Pulitzer was dressing every socialite and prominent figure from the Rockefellers and Whitneys to Jacqueline Kennedy Onasis in brightly colored and tropical prints. The New York Times remembered her designs as “a mark of membership for old money families at play.”
But on Sunday, as the racks began to empty the products started turning up on eBay, advertised as “rare” items from the Target collection.
But the widespread anticipation and rapid sell out is nothing new for Target. They’ve been successfully causing Black Friday-like commotion at their stores for almost every designer collaboration they’ve launched. Previous brands have included Altuzarra, Proenza Schouler, Missoni and Rodarte at a fraction of the high-end brand’s normal prices.
In 2011, shoppers momentarily shut down Target’s website over their Missoni capsule collection before snagging every bit of inventory by the end of the day.
The following year, for their launch with Jason Wu, shoppers were circulating every Target in the area for pieces for that had sold out within hours.
Some fashion devotees think these collaborations are ruining the brands’ luxury aesthetic. Then again, they’re probably the ones who can afford the full retail price of an original. And as Target proved once again, its not stopping the masses from grabbing everything they can when it comes to affordable fashion.