It’s true: This Southern girl loves her some Lilly Pulitzer prints. But how do I reconcile the manufacturing practices of Lilly Pulitzer with my ethical fashion principles? Read on to find out more about how I stay true to my ethics while still getting to wear my Lilly!
Is Lilly Pulitzer Clothing Made Ethically?
What do we do know about Lilly Pulitzer’s manufacturing practices? Not much. We do know that the clothes are made in China, because that is what is printed on the tags. At the time that this post was published, I could not find any information on Lilly Pulitzer’s website about their manufacturing practices, and they have failed to respond to my questions on social media asking them about who makes their clothes. And generally speaking, if a company is NOT revealing much about their manufacturing practices, it’s because they don’t have anything good to share.
I recommend reading local blogger friend Molly’s open letter to Lilly Pulitzer for information on what the company is NOT disclosing nor addressing. We need more transparency!
Until Lilly Pulitzer can clean up their act or assure me that their clothes are manufactured ethically, or until a Lilly Pulitzer-esque fair trade brand emerges, I’ve had to find other ways to purchase Lilly while still staying true to my fashion principles. Here’s six tips for how to do it:
1. Start thinking secondhand.
My big secret to buying Lilly and feeling good about it is that I always buy consignment Lilly pieces. By not giving my money to the Lilly Pulitzer coffers, I am not supporting their labor practices and am casting a vote via my money for a better way. And, buying secondhand is much, much better for the environment. No Lilly in the dumpster! Keeping clothing out of landfills as long as possible is best for our Earth. A final bonus? It’s so much cheaper! Buying consignment is much less expensive than buying new.
2. Know your Lilly sizes and style preferences.
Before you start hunting for the perfect consignment Lilly piece, it helps to have an idea of what size you will wear and which Lilly styles tend to look best on you (especially if you are going to be shopping online…see #4). If you already have a closet full of Lilly, you probably know what size you need to buy. Otherwise, head to your nearest Lilly Pulitzer store (or boutique/department store that carries Lilly) to start trying things on! Yep, I have definitely gone to a Lilly Pulitzer store to try on clothing for sizes and walked out not buying anything. I don’t see this as rude at all, provided you aren’t taking up a salesperson’s time by asking them to constantly bring you new sizes. Bonus points if you actually have a conversation with the employees about why you are not purchasing anything that day–tell them that you don’t like the company’s labor practices!
3. Shop local.
The first place to start looking for Lilly is locally. If you can find what you need in the community where you live, you will save the environment the burden of shipping materials and transportation byproducts. Plus, you’ll be supporting a local business! Hit up your town’s upscale consignment shop; my favorites here in the Raleigh area are dress and Fifi’s. You could also try searching on Facebook marketplace!
4. Shop online.
While buying local is great in many ways, shopping online opens up many more options, because you have access to consignment Lilly from all around the country! I have purchased several Lilly Pulitzer tops, dresses, and accessories on Poshmark (and sold some, too!). When shopping online, it is helpful to know ahead of time what size you wear and what cuts look best on you. That way, when your clothing arrives, you’ll find yourself with a well-fitting piece rather than something unflattering that you can’t return.
5. Shop lookalikes.
When it comes to those iconic, loud Lilly prints, no other brands quite compare. But you can still get a Lilly-esque look with ethically made clothing brands. I just recently purchased this hot pink Everly dress from The Flourish Market. It is ethically made in the USA and looks like it belongs right in the middle of a Lilly Pulitzer store (and it’s much less expensive than an actual Lilly dress)!
Insider tip: For 15% off your first purchase at The Flourish Market, use this link.
6. Keep asking Lilly Pulitzer who made your clothes.
Some day, I hope that this entire post becomes a moot point because Lilly Pulitzer will be manufacturing their clothes in an ethical way. Until then, we have to keep telling them that we care. Email them, call them, post on social media. In the spirit of the Fashion Revolution movement, ask them to tell you who made your clothes!
Alright, loves–that concludes my tips for getting your Lilly Pulitzer fix, ethically! If you’ve used any of the above tips to find the perfect Lilly Pulitzer outfit, I want to see! Send me a photo at laura(at)fairlysouthern.com. I’d love to feature you on the Fairly Southern social media channels!