Lilly Pulitzer Gets Caught With Fat-Shaming Pics During New York Mag Visit

This is particularly bad for a brand with its elite reputation.

With interest in all things Lilly Pulitzer at a fever pitch following the fashion label’s successful capsule collection for Target, the brand threw open its doors to New York magazine for a slideshow of images taken inside its offices. As any socialite will tell you, when visitors come calling, you make sure all of the dirty laundry has been safely locked tight. Unfortunately for Lilly Pulitzer, no one did a walk through before the cameras showed up and a picture of two body shaming cartoons ended up in the magazine’s story.

Available here and in the tweet above, someone (New York says the image is from someone’s personal workspace) posted two images that fat-shame carb lovers and the more generally “hideous” among us. The brand has been getting hit from all sides today for the image, with many questioning what kind of a company would allow that atmosphere to exist seemingly unimpeded.

This would be bad for any label, but is particularly gross coming from a women’s fashion brand. Add to that, Lilly Pulitzer has a reputation that precedes it. Projecting an elite lifestyle — its iconic shift was first worn by Jackie Kennedy — the dress was created to hide a woman’s “gin pouch.” Then there were those who were against the whole idea of Lilly Pulitzer coming to Target for fears it would take the shine from its posh history. Ultimately, when the line landed at Target (Tar-zhay if you prefer) it sold out quickly, leaving many frustrated and turning to eBay, where the prices were jacked up to sky high levels.

And while the capsule collection ran through size 14 at Target, Lilly Pulitzer doesn’t normally make plus sizes.

The company has apologized, but when your brand has this sort of talk associated with it, it’s going to take more that that to get the bad taste out of people’s mouths. Here’s an exchange on one of the other images from the New York slideshow, featuring Eleni Tavantzis, senior manager of social media marketing & PR:

Some of your longtime customers criticized making the brand’s partnership with Target because Lilly Pulitzer supposedly represents luxe living.

That was when we realized as a brand that maybe we haven’t always done a good enough job of telling the story of Lilly. Lilly herself was ultrainclusive. When I talk about the wild parties that she threw, she was known for always inviting her favorite gardener, and the heiress next door in Palm Beach. Everybody was in the kitchen helping make the fruit salad, pour the Bloody Marys — everybody got their hands dirty. Everybody got to party.

So something that was supposed to bring more people into the fold has actually alienated a good number of potential customers.

The brand will have to go further to be appeal to new customers now. The brand definitely needs to start by living up to this “ultrainclusive” message that their own PR person was trying to push.