Kit Steinkellner
January 09, 2015 9:29 am

By now you’ve heard of the highly anticipated collaboration between Target and designer Lilly Pulitzer—the high-end, colorful resort wear brand with an avid following. This week, the retail giant announced the April 19 release of a 250-piece collection, featuring 15 exclusive prints designed by Pulitzer artists.

Whenever the retailer partners with a major, upscale label it’s kind of a big deal, but this announcement has been unexpectedly controversial. First die-hard Pulitzer fans—of which, apparently, there are many—took to Twitter concerned that the collab would dilute the iconic brand’s reputation. While that may be a niche concern, there is a more significant issue with the Target/Pulitzer collab that’s outraged many.

The problem: Plus-size offerings will not be sold in stores, but rather, online only. Like, they will not be selling ONE plus-size garment from this collection in A SINGLE ONE of their 1,683 stores. The thing is, this collab was supposed to be more inclusive than past collabs, so the slight is not being taken lightly. Here’s what some people had to say:

Target’s developing a reputation amongst the plus-size community for failing to recognize the shopping needs of women of all sizes. There was the time when Target labelled a plus-size grey dress “manatee grey,” while smaller-sized dresses that were the exact same color were labeled “dark heather grey.” That time when, instead of using a plus-size model to advertise a plus-size dress, Target just used a smaller model and stuck a fake pregnant belly on her. And that time where Target did a collaboration with Altuzarra and basically forgot to make plus sizes. 

Ironically, this Lilly Pulitzer collab was intended to accommodate more plus-size customers than, say, the Altuzarra doozy. As Stacia Andersen, senior vice president of apparel and accessories told Fashionista, inclusion was (supposed to be) the name of this game:

“It’s really important for us that we can provide stylish apparel for everybody, and we felt like this collection was the right time to do it. This project is so democratic. When we do these collaborations, there’s a certain group of people that always really respond to them. But this, anybody can wear this. There’s just such a range that anyone can find something that they love.”

But if retailers want to include their plus-size customers, they have to include them everywhere, on their website, in their stores, basically everywhere they’re selling clothes. Unless they’re selling their plus-size apparel the exact same way they’re selling apparel in smaller sizes, they’re not really being inclusive.

Of course, like everything, this decision probably has to do with some internal bottom line. In a statement released to People, a company spokesperson said: “Target.com offers us the opportunity to provide guests with a broader assortment. We’re excited to offer Plus size as a part of Lilly Pulitzer for Target. We look forward to seeing how the assortment performs and, like any offering, will continue to evaluate our programs for the future.”

Perhaps that’s Target’s way of saying we’re working on being better, but for now, this is what we got. In the meantime, they may have alienated some extremely important consumers who have been marginalized in the past and were hoping for a change.

(Image via Target)

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