Controversy arises as Target brings in Lilly Pulitzer brand

Emma Kuntz

As the buzz about Target and its new collaboration with Lilly Pulitzer, which is scheduled to debut in stores and online April 19, there is a new controversy that’s gaining the focus of the launch.

Lilly Pulitzer is a fun and exotic brand filled with beach prints and bright color combinations. The sizing of the brand typically runs from 00 to 16, however, when collaborating with Target, Lilly Pulitzer will offer up to size 18 in stores and further plus sizes online. When Target’s plus-size customers caught wind of the news, it is safe to say they were less than enthused.

“It’s not fair to the plus-size customers if they can’t try the garments on before making the purchase,” said Taylor Richardson, senior in apparel, merchandising and design.

The problem with offering plus sizes exclusively online is that it sets a stigma that the plus-size customers aren’t worthy of shopping in the stores.

Target has addressed the issue in a press release stating, “We’re offering [plus sizes] on because gives us an opportunity to try different things. We need to take a measured approach in terms of responding to the guests because they say this is something they want to purchase. So we’re hearing the feedback, we’re seeing the feedback and what I think is really important, we are responding to the feedback.”

Many think that Target is indirectly saying is that the company is trying to “test out” the market of its plus-size consumers, seeing whether the items will sell without investing too much money.

“I do not agree with Target for not allowing plus-size shoppers to purchase the new line in stores,” said Jaycie David, junior in psychology. “They shouldn’t have to test it out to see if it’s going to go over well. I don’t even think that Target will be getting a true indication of how well the plus-size clothing will go over because some people, like myself, don’t shop for clothes online.”

This adds an interesting twist because although electronic retailing is on the rise, there is still a large number of consumers who will not shop for clothing online.

Some bloggers, like Tyler McCall, have addressed the issue by saying, “Vote with your dollars!”

McCall meant plus-size shoppers can prove to Target that there is a market for this by buying the items online to get them into the stores.

“I think saying “vote with your wallet” is a good way to twist around the unfortunate situation so that plus-size shoppers will see it as a good opportunity,” David said.

It’s attitudes like these that can lead to optimistic change. However, at the end of the day, what does this ethical business decision leave consumers thinking of Target’s brand image?

“I think that Target has been receiving a lot of negative attention lately because of their plus-size limitations,” Richardson said. “Target’s brand image is still really positive in my eyes, but could improve by making their clothing attainable to all shapes and sizes.”