With a year-long Lilly Goes Green campaign; a new apparel line; a new home goods collection with Garnet Hill; a limited edition color cosmetics line with MAC Cosmetics, and partnerships with LeSportsac and a bevy of nonprofit organizations, Lilly Pulitzer is blooming all over.
This story first appeared in the September 24, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“In difficult times, the single best way to succeed is by being innovative,” said James Bradbeer Jr., president of Lilly Pulitzer. “Despite the cloud over Seventh Avenue, we remain optimistic. And in difficult times, we provide an island of happy.”
While Bradbeer acknowledges the economy has affected business, he points out the company “has moved quickly to get the price-value equation reset,” something which began with the brand’s fall collection.
Lilly Pulitzer, which just celebrated its 50th birthday with a Jubilee year, is kicking off Lilly Loves Green this fall. But it is green Lilly-style — which is to say, not in the very strictest sense of the word. Although the company is taking steps to work with eco-conscious factories and using organic materials and green processes — including a commitment to using Oeko-Tex Standard 100-certified fabrics — it is also employing green thinking with the new Originals line, said Bradbeer.
Beginning with resort, which starts shipping Oct. 25, Originals will be a permanent addition to the Lilly Pulitzer lineup. The collections, which will change each season, will include vintage-inspired pieces and designs that harken back to the early days of the brand, as well as designs that may not fit a certain season’s main theme. The line is being billed as the ultimate recyclable: pieces that are designed to be handed down from generation to generation, said Bradbeer. As well, Originals has been endorsed by Cotton Inc. as being eco-friendly and carries hangtags and labels made entirely from recycled materials. “We want to have a place where the collections can be a little bit of everything,” Janie Schoenborn, design director for Lilly Pulitzer, noted of Originals.
Bradbeer also believes it will benefit retailers. “We wanted to create a platform of classic shapes and great prints — and a line with full-price integrity,” noted Bradbeer, adding that all Originals price points are under $200 retail. For example, the classic Roslyn skirt will retail for $128 and the Worth Shift, $178. “Originals will be set up as a full-price solution for retailers,” said Bradbeer. “It’s a great value for the price — we think our core customer will love the designs, and new customers will see an opportunity to get into the brand.” The new line will be spotlighted with in-store events during America Recycles Week, which runs from Nov. 9 to 15. Coming in the spring Originals lineup: Grandstand Patch, a print designed by Carson Kressley which will raise funds and awareness for the American Saddlebred Museum.
As part of the initiative, each of the seasonal collections — beginning with resort 2009 and ending with fall 2010 — will focus on a different environmental theme, which ties into the bigger Lilly Loves Green picture. Resort 2009 is dubbed “Escape to the Water’s Edge” and comprises ocean-inspired designs, including coral, fish and waves in shades of apple green, bright pink, turquoise and teal. Accessories are also tied into the theme, including a $48 Coral Me Crazy necklace which will benefit Sea Web’s Too Precious to Wear campaign dedicated to coral conservation. In January and February, the company will partner with American Forests to plant a tree for every Pulitzer polo sold.
Spring 2010’s theme will be “Protective Prints,” and will feature patterns of exotic and endangered animals, including the American crocodile and the Florida panther — not to mention Pandamonium, a black-and-white print with pops of hot pink, which shows off the World Wildlife Fund’s panda mascot. The company will donate 10 percent of sales generated from the panda print — which will be featured on women’s and children’s dresses, a women’s skirt, a tote and a men’s blazer — to the WWF.
Summer 2010’s theme, “Buy Local,” will be inspired by local markets, fresh produce from the garden and seafood — and Michelle Obama’s White House garden, noted Schoenborn. The first delivery is set with prints inspired by fruits, wildflowers, and vegetables found at local farmers’ markets, while the second delivery heads back to the shore with prints inspired by fresh fish and crustaceans.
For fall 2010, Lilly Pulitzer will focus on spas, yogawear, and resort getaway chic apparel inspired by — and partly made of — natural materials, including bamboo. The collection is still in its early stages of design, noted Schoenborn.
The Lilly Goes Green items will be sold in the company’s 22 freestanding corporate stores, 75 privately owned Via Shops, and in selected Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom doors.
Beauty is also on the company’s radar. Pulitzer is linking up with MAC Cosmetics to do a 19-stockkeeping unit color cosmetics collection dubbed MAC in Lillyland, which will be on counter Jan. 7 at all North American MAC locations; it will hit international MAC counters in February. The lineup includes two makeup brushes, an eyeshader for $24.50 and an angled contour brush, $32; two Technakohl liners, each $14.50; four Lipgelées, each $14; two nail lacquers, each $12; three Paint Pots, each $16.50; four Cremeblend blushes, each $18.50, and two embossed compacts. “Lilly is breezy and fun — and what the world needs right now,” said James Gager, MAC’s senior vice president and creative director. “I’ve always been a fan of Lilly prints and what she’s done from the Sixties forward. This partnership is part of our continuing effort to engage the customer in new ways. If you can’t afford to go to the resort, we will bring the resort to you with these products.”
In February, the company will launch a cobranded, limited edition bag collection with LeSportsac. The line will include handbags, totes, small accessories, travel bags and a tennis case, each in three different Pulitzer prints. All feature endangered species, as part of the Lilly Loves Green theme, and range in price from $20 for a cosmetic bag to $158 for a garment bag. They will be sold in both Lilly Pulitzer and LeSportsac freestanding stores, as well as both companies’ Web sites. Bradbeer noted LeSportsac’s extensive overseas distribution may open up new possibilities for Pulitzer abroad.
And the company will re-enter the home business in February in partnership with Garnet Hill. “The opportunity to exclusively bring Lilly Pulitzer Home to life allows our customers to experience this American brand in a new way,” said Russ Gaitskill, president of Garnet Hill. “It also opens the doorway for thousands of Lilly Pulitzer customers to find bed and bath collections suited to their lifestyle.” Highlights for bedding include The Life of the Party, inspired by a cocktail dress; Happy and Bright, which includes playful florals; Retro to Bohemian, which includes cool blues, lush greens, tropical foliage and lemons, and Follow the Sun! The Resort–Chic Lilly Pulitzer Bath, which includes towels and bath rugs.