The buys of summer

Lilly Pulitzer fashion director Janie Schoenborn explains the gators, gathers shells

(John Blanding/Globe Staff)
By Irene Muniz
Globe Correspondent / June 24, 2010

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Q. What’s the Lilly Pulitzer 2010 summer look?

A. It’s all about shorts this summer. A little printed short with a knit top is such an easy throw-on, casual style.

Q. Are any of the trademark prints particularly popular in the Boston area?

A. Oh yes! There are some over the years that I hear about constantly. I will say every time we do gators they’re a huge hit in Florida and every time we do shells, they’re a huge hit everywhere, but especially in Boston. Everybody wants to wear shells in Boston and on the Cape in the summer, and who can blame them?

Q. Is there a staple you won’t get rid of?

A. Lilly started with a shift dress and it’s usually one of our number one top sellers because there’s nothing better than to throw on a dress, look pulled together, put your hair however it is, and you feel like a million dollars. It can hide a gin belly, we say. So it’s very comfortable and it’s a great canvas for a print. So that’s something we’ve been doing for 50ish-plus years and we’ll never stop.

Q. Everything is so summerish, and around here it’s chilly to frigid for about half the year. Do you sell in the winter?

A. We do. It’s all about color. We have brightly colored cashmere sweaters. It’s very chic. Oh, and we have our new Murfee scarves, which have been a great hit. It’s a great way to wear print if you just want to dash, to zip up any outfit.

Q. Is Boston a strong market?

A. Oh yeah. Boston is one of our top markets. It’s where we have a customer that really embraces everything about the brand. They love to wear the prints; they’ll totally go with the theme. I think because the Cape is so close and we’re right here on the water, it’s very, very Lilly.

Q. I hear the company has gotten involved in environmental causes.

A. Well this year we’re celebrating Lilly Loves Green, so each season we’ve kind of embraced different environmental causes. We designed a few pieces that raised awareness for coral conservation. For spring, we did a print with World Wildlife Fund with panda bears on it and it sold out. This summer it’s also “buy local,’’ so we have our “Queen of Green’’ print. It’s all about recycling and kind of going to your local merchants to buy things.

Q. You’re working on the summer 2011 collection already. How do you know what clients will want so far in advance?

A. Summer’s just kicking off so you’re kind of designing in the season. You’re really thinking about what — and we see a million pictures with our customers — she’s wearing now and then we can combine it with trends that we see that are coming.

Interview was condensed and edited.

Irene Muniz can be reached at