Lilly Pulitzer: Life in Print
Strategy and product for a $100MM brand
After straying from its bold irreverent founder's vision, the Lilly Pulitzer brand was facing bankruptcy. A growing pool of Resort-wear competition and an over-assortment in response to the loudest superfans put the brand in danger. The brand needed a sharp turnaround in sales and market relevancy.
How might we refocus the brand and stand out in a resortwear sea of the same?
Before I came on board, the Lilly Pulitzer brand had wandered away from its powerful origin story. Consumers didn’t know about Lilly’s entrepreneurial 1960s spirit, and few knew each print is made by a team of in-house artists — almost unheard of in fashion. The brand was not effectively telling the authentic, historically-rooted story or the radical artistic process. The audience was capped at those who already loved the product, but new excitement was few and far. In addition, the Resort clothing market space was getting over-saturated.
By identifying and capitalizing on Lilly’s competitive advantages: Print + History, I led the team to Life in Print. We developed thousands of handmade illustrations for mobile and desktop, emails, in-store graphics, direct mail and beyond. The team experimented with product photography lighting – creating a style that makes each product look like it’s shot in hot, natural sunshine.
Art direction for location photoshoots, also under my responsibilities, was guided by Lilly’s history. I directed world-renowned photographers Ben Watts, Russell James and Roland Bello to capture a 1960s, strong female lead— power poses rather than sexualized poses. I had the honor of working with incredible models including: Elsa Hosk, Vita Sidorkina, Lais Ribeiro, Bridget Malcolm, Erin Heatherton, and many more talented women.
The goals: acquire new younger consumers, retain existing loyalists, and increase the average annual spend for each consumer, were accomplished across the board. Before the launch of Life in Print visual strategy the homepage bounce rate was 41%. After launching Life in Print, the homepage bounce rate dropped to 16.25%, and with further illustrative exploration dropped to an incredible 9.65%. Industry average is 38-40%.
Print pieces also saw an enormous leap of success. ROI on seasonal direct mail campaigns ranged from $12-$26. That is exceptional against industry standards.
Lilly Pulitzer company sales continued to climb in a period when fashion at large struggled to grow. The design and ecommerce teams, under my leadership, grew from one to ten, and continues to flourish as internal digital + creative services squad.
The website…maybe for the first time ever…looks incredibly Lilly. It is differentiated from the market, it screams Lilly, it enforces resort chic and it is WHOLLY ours. Kathleen has worked with the ecom designers to show off Life in Print in our most viewed platform. GREAT JOB.
- Jane Paradis, Senior VP of Creative Communications