Lilly Pulitzer for Target causes shopping frenzy

Updated 6:19 PM EDT, Mon April 20, 2015
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Story highlights

Lines started forming as early as 5 a.m. Sunday outside Target stores for Lilly Pulitzer collection

Many stores sold out within minutes

Online shoppers reported problems throughout Sunday morning

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.

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.”

CNN’s Katie Lobosco and Sarah LeTrent contributed to this report.