Brand of the Day: Jackie Kennedy Loved Lilly Pulitzer, but the Label Isn’t Stuck in the Past

Just look at the resort chic wear maker's Instagram numbers

Headshot of Kristina Monllos

Few brands can cause socialites—or at least, those who would like to look high society—to brawl. But Lilly Pulitzer is one of them.

The fashion brand's annual warehouse sale is such an event that the industry blog Racked offered a list of tips for die-hard fans looking to nab the apparel at discounted prices. 

But maybe the brand's history shows why fans would fight for the resort chic wears. Jackie Kennedy put on one of its dresses in 1962—made from kitchen curtain material, no less—and people went bonkers. The brand took off from there, and shift dresses made of bright material became known as "Lillys." 

Pulitzer was the daughter of a New York society family (her maiden name was McKim). But it wasn't until she moved to Palm Beach, Fla., with her husband that she began designing the dresses. She passed away last year at age 81. But the brand remains popular thanks to her original and distinct designs. 

After Jackie Kennedy was photographed wearing Lilly Pulitzer

in 1962 the brand took off.

Social Media Profile

(as of 9/18/14)

Facebook Likes: 863,432

Twitter Followers: 151,703

Instagram Followers: 328,087

Pinterest Followers: 117,373

The brand has found a niche audience on social platforms like Instagram and Pinterest, garnering an average of 8,000 likes and 250 pins, respectively, for each post. In fact, Stylophane recently named Lilly Pulitzer as one of the top five most engaged fashion brands on Instagram.

Recent Advertising

The brand shies away from traditional advertising—the last video uploaded to the brand's YouTube page, showing how one of its prints was made, was over a year ago. While its does place ads in regional magazines, the brand invests heavily in its social platforms, particularly Instagram. 

Jane Schoenborn

The CMO's Philosophy

"Our marketing is simple—all we want to do is build a connection with our consumer," says Jane Schoenborn, vp of creative communications. "Sounds basic, right? At Lilly our consumer has always been a dear friend. Lilly [the woman] was incredibly inclusive, and we market the way she threw parties … everyone is invited, you may be expected to lend a hand, and expect the unexpected. Our brand provides the answer to a very specific need (resort lifestyle dressing) and by delivering excellent product and keeping our consumer close, we win over consumers for life. Welcome to the party."

Fast Facts

• Following her marriage to Peter Pulitzer when she was 21, Lilly moved from New York City to Palm Beach. It was there that she started a juice stand (her husband had citrus groves) and to disguise the inevitable juice stains, she had what would become known as a "Lilly" made.

• Though the brand is featured at retailers like Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue, there are just 26 corporate stores.

• The brand flourished from 1960 to 1984. It became popular again in the '90s after Sugartown Worldwide acquired the brand.

• Yes, Lilly was part of that Pulitzer family. Her husband Peter's grandfather was responsible for establishing the award.

Brand of the Day is a new daily feature on To submit a brand for consideration, contact

@KristinaMonllos Kristina Monllos is a senior editor for Adweek.