Hello and welcome back to our Sales Styles Series! We are back and this time we interviewed New York based fashionista @the.sales.girl!Sales Girl is a fellow devoted member of the sample sale community in New York City as well as searching every corner of the internet for the best designer deals. If you were to check out her Instagram on any regular day, you would find tons of screenshots of deals online as well as live photos taken from the best sales in NYC.
@the.sales.girl told us she has been shopping at sample sales since college (I mean it’s never too early to get a good deal). While she started her Instagram based on the fact that the only media outlet providing insight on the merchandise was ShopDrop! She felt like there needed to be more coverage on the products at sample sales. Regarding her screenshots of the online deals, she just wants to help out her sale sisters/brothers! Sales Girls said she devotes around a half hour to an hour each day online searching for designer goodies. She said uses a lot of filters for specific designers and said that Barney’s was her favorite (they save your favorite designers – making it that much easier). She also mentioned Cettire having great finds but it is a pain to search through. Her favorite place to shop in-stores is Barney’s Warehouse and she swears by it. @the.sales.girl described herself as “thrifty as f*ck” and we really couldn’t agree more! Check out below to see her answer from quick questions.
What are your takeaways for shopping at sample sales? Advice to newbies on the sample sale scene!
Grab everything you like then filter through, make sure you try everything on and be prepared to wait!
Sample sales hosted by third party versus in house by the brand
Definitely hosted by the brand – there is where you find the best deals
What has been your favorite sample sale to date?
Louboutin and Balenciaga
What brands are you hoping have a sample sale?
Chanel (don’t we all), Valentino and Fendi
What is your favorite purchase within the last year?
Valentino Black Rockstud Sandals (scored for $105) and McQueen Bag from UAL!
Today we had the opportunity to check out the Bottega Veneta Sample Sale at 123 West 18th Street. The room was filled with lots of gorgeous gowns, tops and skirts that would make Amal and George Clooney jealous!
The Bottega Veneta Sample Sale was oozing with dreamy Italian chic dresses, tops and skirts at amazing prices. Dresses that were originally 2,000 dollars are now 200! If you need a tux for your man, look no further. Make your man look sleek and sexy for only 200 bucks! All the whimsical pieces made us feel as if we were sitting in the Italian country side on a relaxing wine tour.
We rated the Bottega Veneta Sample Sale a 6 out of 10. There was really great pricing on tops, skirts and dresses but a lot of the merchandise was tainted, ripped or stained. There was very limited merchandise in smaller sizes. The selection for men’s was really great! To score Bottega Veneta for 80% is such an amazing deal and very rare! Make sure to get downtown to check it out!
What: Bottega Veneta Sample Sale
When: Tue, Jul 24 – Thu, Jul 26
Where: 123 West 18th Street, NY, NY
*read with British accent – makes more sense that way
Today we wondered downtown to 150 Greene Street to try and checkout the highly covetedReformation Sample Sale,but sadly we were let down. We had to stand in the blazing, boiling, burning heat for hours. Clothing by Reformation is seen all over Instagram, featured by renowned bloggers such as Danielle Bernstein of WeWoreWhat and Jacey Duprie of DamselinDior and those alike.
As we stood on Greene street dying a slow and very warm death, we pondered the question. Is the Reformation Sample Sale worth it? After consulting with shoppers leaving, philosophers thinking and our inner selves, we have arrived at the definitive conclusion – absolutely not. Yes, the clothing is very cute, extremely chic and seen all over social media. No one, not even our worst enemies should be forced to stand in boiling heat, unless they’re at the beach getting a nice tan with a margarita in hand. As you probably followed from our Instagram stories, Zara and Reformation make merchandise that are extremely similar in pattern, color and style. The best perk is that Zara is way cheaper.
We rated the Reformation Sample Sale a 3 out of 10. You would think based on the line that wrapped around the block, that they were giving away free puppies and ice cream. But no: no puppies, no ice cream. If you don’t have time to melt on the sidewalks of NYC, we recommend you go to Zara and check out their merchandise. Even better, sit on your couch, pour yourself a nice bloody glass of rosé and shop online!
What: Reformation Sample Sale
When: Jun, 19 – Jun 24, 2018
Where: 150 Greene Street, NY, NY
If you’re into cozy & high quality pajamas and don’t want to spend $300 on a pair, then you should be shopping for all your sleepwear at the Hanro sample sale. Hanro is a Swiss brand that produces luxury pajamas, robes, night gowns and basics. The items retail for $200-$300. At the sample sale the most expensive items go for $80. The only downside is that the room is too small for all the racks and people within – otherwise, only the best things to say.
What: Hanro sample sale
Where: 358 5th Ave, NY, NY
When: Tue, Apr 17 – Thu, Apr 19
Here’s the recap on the equinox sample sale: 2/10 for lines, 5/10 for prices, 2/10 for merchandise selection}
Most items were either 50%, 55% or 60% off. A nice amount of leggings, sports bras, t-shirts, sweatshirts and knapsacks.
The sale is open through the weekend so make sure to check it out if you need some leggings to hit the gym up.
What: Equinox sample sale
Where: 260 Fifth Ave, NY, NY
When: Apr 3 – Apr 8
If you’re a man and you’re cool, you need to shop at the Saturday NYC sample sale this weekend. Sweatshirts, sweatpants, shirts, coats, jackets are selling for under $100 at the sample sale hosted by Chelsea Market. At retail, this iconic brands sells sweatpants for $180, and at the sale they are $50 bucks. Shoes and sneakers sell for $35 and $50, for canvas and leather respectively. The entire warehouse is categorized by category and then by size, so finding your favorite item shouldn’t be difficult at all. I checked it out on Wednesday and walked away with a bag of goodies worth $400 that only cost $95 at the sale. As always, photos and prices below.
What: Saturdays NYC sample sale
Where: 75 9th Ave, NY, NY
When: Wed, Mar 21st – Sun, Mar 25th
Estee: Most people don’t come as far as dreaming of founding a business. You have successfully built up THREE! Please tell us briefly about your agency, FemFounder & TheBeautyLyst.com (formerly The Haute Rebel).
Kristin: FemFounder resulted from female entrepreneurs asking for help with social media, PR strategy, and other marketing questions. We started off with a high level blog – and here I am with hundreds of female founder interviews on the blog, over 40,000 people on the email list who came primarily through Pinterest and instagram. Additionally, we set up the Femfounder guide (called The Profitable Founder: How to Find the Right Clients, Keep Your Pipeline Full, and Create a Business You Love)that ranges between $20 and $100 and includes the framework for building a successful business for entrepreneurs who don’t want to commit to hiring an agency or consultancy full time. I am also working on turning The Profitable Founder a book, which will be published later this year).
The Beauty Lyst – formerly THR (The Haute Rebel) – is an integrated e-commerce platform for all things related to clean beauty. We received more than 12,000 responses to our directional survey. It seemed clear that people wanted a single place to go to for authority on overall healthy beauty recommendations and lifestyle tips. We are rebranding to offer that service to our users. The site will include product reviews of that nature from fully lifestyle to clean natural organic beauty. My fellow entrepreneur, advisor, and partner, Tayelor Kennedy, is a celebrity makeup and wellness expert. We are excited about revamping this model to create a platform that matches beauty products to your traits (skin type, hair) and needs. We generate revenue by taking a percentage of the sale and from editorial sponsorships.
Creative Development Agency is my bread and butter. My team is small – five altogether but we are like family. We also work with contractors for design, copywriting, and more. Our client base ranges from 15 to 30 client projects depending on the time of the year. We service all brands from startups and Fortune 500 companies and everything in between. What makes us unique from all of the other creative agencies out there is the analytics component that we offer our e-com clients.
We started 10 years ago and our goal is to stay nimble. Some of my favorite clients are just fantastic: they are beauty e-commerce services, family businesses, and beauty companies. I am always improving my analytical skills and am currently attending a course at MIT in machine learning, data science, and advanced programming.
More recently, I joined the board and I am in the process of becoming a partner of the women’s boutique modeling agency, Debut Model Management. Mark Moore, the founder and CEO of the agency, and I have known one another for many years. We met through some industry professionals when I was a fashion model (many years ago) and he was working in marketing for a large fashion house. We’ve stayed in touch throughout the years and have finally decided to partner on this incredible project. It’s really exciting.
Estee: What’s the one piece of advice you would give to young women interested in entrepreneurship?
Kristin: Entrepreneurs – aspiring, new, or established – should understand how data science relates to marketing so they can anticipate trends, optimize sales cycles, and improve the overall user experience. For instance, having some knowledge of R Programming can help any entrepreneur predict what content has the potential to go viral, analyze customer data, and so much more.
Additionally, create a product or service for a viable market – and you will have a sustainable business – I didn’t figure that out a year into business – you need to give people what they want. It’s all about supply and demand – It’s that simple.
Estee: So Kristin, what is your secret to successful multitasking?
Kristin: Honestly, I hate to be that person, but I really can’t focus on more than one thing at a time! In terms of getting things done – I stick to a very strict schedule and keep a notepad near me all the time. I make sure everything on my to-do list gets done by the end of the day. There is nothing as rewarding as crossing tasks off my list. Yes, I guess that means I am a linear thinker.
In terms of the way I think, I focus in on the issue at hand. When I am addressing an issue within one of my businesses – I look at that one issue and don’t worry about any background noise. If there is an issue with one of my sites, I will address the site; billing or client relationships – will deal with those issues separately. Problem solving works when you tackle one problem at a time. Although all my businesses stem from CDA and are indirectly related, I look at them as three different entities – that keeps my scales balanced.
Estee: Tell us a bit about your background and about the steps that led you to where you are today.
Kristin: I grew up in central New Jersey near the beach. My upbringing was just like any other suburban child. I attended Catholic high school: while it was interesting, was not exactly what I wanted. My dad went to Catholic school, so he thought it would be good for us. I have an older sister who is three years older than I am. We were close growing up and we still maintain a close relationship today.
After college and my first round of graduate school, I worked as a consultant for Meridian Consulting Group and then the financial crisis happened. The entire Northeast office was shut down – and I and my colleagues were left to our own devices. It wasn’t an easy time: I had a lot of bills including a mortgage, car payment, and student loans. That was when I decided not to go for another corporate job but to pursue my own business. While it was grueling to work a 80+ hours a week to go from freelancer to full service agency, I never looked back. When I turned 30, I decided to go back to school to pursue another master’s degree from New York University.
Estee: How do you deal with uncertainty?
Kristin: Every entrepreneur goes through periods of uncertainty. We have times in our business when income can ebb and flow, that’s the reality of being an entrepreneur, and even more so when you’re in a service-based business. The one thing I always think about is the long term. While one month’s revenue might be down 50% and the next month it might be up 30%, ultimately, this is the lifestyle I want – I want to be in charge of my own schedule and the projects in which we work on.
I have friends who work in corporate America who hate it. They always say “Kristin, you’re living the dream,” and my response is “No. That’s not necessarily true! The grass is always greener on the other side.”
I tried corporate America and just couldn’t find the passion to make it work and stay. Therefore, it is worth the pain to go through the ups and downs for me. Everybody has problems – for me it is looking forward, planning – figuring out how to get through the tough times. There was a point in time when I was thinking about med school (back when I was a freshman in college) and then law school (right after college) – and I am glad I didn’t, because I look at my husband who is a partner in the law firm, and his problems seem so much bigger than the ones I have. I am glad I made the choice to start my own business. Of course, I might have done things a bit differently if I could turn back time, but I am luck lucky to be where I am financially and career wise.
Estee: Tell us about how the industry evolved in the time you’ve worked in it.
Kristin: When I started in PR in 2005, email pitching wasn’t really an acceptable form of communication – you had to pick up the phone or send a fax to submit a pitch. MySpace had just launched then. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram were not around. Social media influencers were non-existent; PR and Influencer marketing companies grown so much – hard to decipher where one ends and the other one begins
What separates one PR person from the next are the relationships she has. Media publications change, so it’s important to develop positive relationships with more senior partners. Lower level contacts are great, but it is also important to have higher level industry contacts to leverage for power.
influencer marketing companies are carving out a new niche in the market. Some of them will survive, but I believe that the whole influencer industry will shift a couple of times in the next three to five years. Based on how quickly technology changes, the current model is not sustainable.
The Theory Sample Sale for Men received a 5 out of 10. While the merchandise was fresh-looking and plentiful, prices were barely 60% off retail. Most pants still cost $99, coats $299, and shoes $169. Compared to the Hugo Boss sample sale, where you could find shoes for $100, this is an expensive alternative. If you are used to buying Theory at full-price then this sale is perfect for you.
What: Theory sample sale for men
Where: Chelsea Market, 75 9th Ave, NY, NY
When: March 7th – March 9th, 2018
How Pop-Ups Are Changing The Retail Game Interview with StoreFront CCO, Joy Fan
StoreFront is a service that provides short-term retail spaces for pop-up locations. We sat with the company Chief Creative Officer (yes, that’s the title!*), Joy Fan. We joined her in SoHo to get to know her better and get some insider tips.
Estee: Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got started?
Joy: I’ve been involved in retail real estate for over 10 years. I started off as a designer, after which I worked in interior and visual design at Levi’s. In 2008, after a number of years between NY & SF, I recognized the opportunity for pop-ups rising from the downfall of the real estate market. My first partnership was at Westfield. At first, the brands were small and local, then it was national and now international brands such as Bonobos and Warby Parker. Ultimately, I joined the Storefront team to aid in the retail revolution.
Estee: How long have pop-ups been around?
Joy: Pop-ups have been around forever! Probably for as long as sample sales. Technology has added a different mix to the entire retail landscape, both from an e-commerce and real estate perspective. In the late 2000s, 10 year leases were beginning to expire. Between 2006-2008 they were refinanced and now those 10 years are up. Yet somehow, brands aren’t jumping to renew their leases. Subsequently, there are more retail vacancies than ever before. Retail has gone through so many changes as well. It has evolved in the past five years, with brands turning from a fully e-commerce approach to one that’s omni-channel and experience-based.
Ten years ago we started with a pop-up here and there. Big brands, like Adidas, would host short-term events and conferences. With time, the economy has changed based on consumption patterns as more and more brands turned to pop-ups as solutions for marketing efforts, exclusive releases and short-term retail spurts. To the contrary, Macy’s, Bloomingdales, and Nordstrom were betting on the fact that real estate would continue to rise. The department stores are trying to reinvent themselves, and people are still leaving. That’s creating many vacancies. Just to give you some perspective, in January 2017 – vacancies were at an all-time high at 33%; while in January 2018, vacancies are at a whooping 37%!
Most people aren’t seeing the difference in vacancies, because we at Storefront are taking advantage of vacancies by offering brands pop-up opportunities, which excites consumers. In the old days, ‘short-term’ was a dirty word. It meant that you couldn’t manage a property and didn’t know how to engage with audiences. Nowadays, many brokers love short-term leases.
Estee: Can you provide examples of brands that implemented the pop-up strategy successfully?
Joy: Everlane is the biggest example – we powered their pop-up last year in Williamsburg. What’s funny is that in 2012 their CEO and founder said he would never be in brick and mortar. He would rather shut down before he went to physical retail. Since then Everlane has done numerous pop-ups and now has a permanent location. When they introduced their denim line [in a pop-up], they had lines out the door. We’ve also worked with other brands such as Warby Parker and Bonobos.
Educating the public is one of our goals. We are beginning huge partnerships with landlords and institutions to ensure that the property values remain at competitive rates. We are glad to share and release any type of analysis and data.
Pop-ups are important because they deliver not just products, but true experiences. People get excited when they have the opportunity to touch and feel things. The experience alone is more ‘instagrammable’ than someone who said they spent a saturday shopping online.The social influence will remain the same with an elite space. You can expect digitalization to hit things like your checkout experience. However, going into the store will remain.
Estee: How are big retailers responding to the pop-up phenomena?
Joy: Bloomingdales created mygirlshops within their department stores. Nordstrom created Nordstrom local, and JCPenney opened up its Jacques Penné pop-up in New York City with us. Overall though, department stores struggle. We see pop-ups as a blank canvas. We give the entrepreneurs the power to put bets on that space using technology, on-demand delivery, and staffing. To then be able to add value back to the consumer and provide an educational tool.
Estee: What advice do you have for startups looking to launch pop-ups?
Joy: You may want to ensure you have a solid following before launching a pop-up.
Foot traffic alone is not enough to garner traction and revenue. The key is to build a consumer base, create an opportunity to meet and interact with customers, and then use the pop-up as an opportunity to test the market and ensure that products are viable for what the startup has invested in.
Many brands that start online first and build up loyalty base. Then they go offline only later. Pop-ups serve as the perfect transition from e-commerce to physical retail and provide creative opportunities which can include meeting the designer, a panel, or showcasing and elite or exclusive line.
Estee: What do you have to say about other startups in the temporary retail space?
Joy: My approach to all these companies is positive: any owner who adapts a pop-up strategy as his or her business model is headed in the right direction. Parasol Projects have been around since 2012, and have seen success both independently and in collaboration with us.
Estee: What’s The Storefront’s strategy in the coming year?
Joy: The best direction for us is to ensure accurate database of availabilities at all times. This means extreme detail on the technical side. Everything now is on demand. You have to be just as fast with your features. Additionally, The Storefront is rapidly expanding internationally: more cities in the US & Europe.
We look to the brands that fit our demand. We have a specific secret formula that we use to track brands, and study how to grow. The key is to listen to our demand and consumers. That is our formula – listening to consumers.
You can purchase e-commerce brands anywhere. Our brands aren’t just looking at one location. They can test where they want to open up a brick and mortar. Anyone who is in the pop-up realm is an asset to us.
Estee: What is your advice for startups looking up to Storefront?
Joy: Always listen to your customer. You have to first grow from 5 consumers to 100, and then you can grow to 1000. When you follow the trends you forget about loyalty. Loyalty is actually the key! The loyal customers will be the ones to direct you into the future.
*In response to our joyful reaction of the CCO title, Joy responded: “Ha, is that a surprise? We are in the space of disrupting retail and real estate so we are constantly innovating. What makes us unique is our drive towards community and creative solutions.”
We had the pleasure of interviewing fashion editorial icon, Marc Karimzadeh.
A German-born-now-native-New Yorker, Marc has an extensive background in the fashion industry, where he met and interviewed designers such as Diane von Furstenberg, Tommy Hilfiger, and Karl Lagerfeld. Marc works as the Editorial and Communications Director for Council of Fashion Designers of America. Prior to CFDA, he worked for WWD. Marc sits with us and shares his experiences on the past, insights of the present, and visions for the future.
Ahuva: What inspired you to get involved in the world of fashion?
Marc: I’ve always been interested in fashion, even back to when I was a teenager. I would buy Harpers Bazaar, Vogue, or other fashion magazines, and read them under the covers with a flashlight. Fashion is a wonderful world of creatives that I wanted to be part of.
When I was 14, Karl Lagerfeld came to my hometown, Hamburg, Germany on a book tour. I bought the book and he signed it for me. I still have the book to this day. My mom said at the time that she couldn’t believe I spent so much on ‘just a book.’
To me, fashion represents magic and creativity. I needed to figure out how I could be part of the magic. Since I was terrible at drawing, I couldn’t be a designer and so I decided to study comparative literature at Brown University.
I knew I wanted to be in magazines, either as a writer or fashion stylist. Throughout my time in college, I did a lot of internships. I even interned at British Vogue. My parents supported me, thankfully, and eventually I landed a permanent position.
In 2000, I responded to an ad in the New York Times for a position at WWD. My first beats were accessories and legwear. I was one of the first people to write about SPANX! Sara Blakely [SPANX founder] came to me with this new concept. Looking back at it, I wish I had invested in it then and there! Eventually, I began writing about fashion. I would travel to Milan and Paris to cover the shows.
A few years ago, with all the shifts in publishing, I switched to Council of Fashion Designers of America – a non-profit supporting over 500 designers.
I was blessed to have parents who were supportive for me to pursue my dream and do something unusual for my culture.
A: What’s the most fascinating way you’ve learned along the way? If you ask people about fashion industry – reputation is catty, snobby and egomaniacs. Has that been your experience?
M:The most creative people are often also the most kind and generous. The truly creative don’t have anything to prove( i.e. Donatella Versace, Karl Lagerfeld, Marc Jacobs). They can be so inspiring, just by allowing me to spend time with them, and by the wisdom and information they share. That is what sets them apart from the others.
My most inspiring moment was probably when I interviewed Donna Karan for the first time, about 12 years ago. She took me around her studio, then opened a door that opened to the atelier of pattern-cutters, seamstresses and bolts of fabric. It’s where that magic I so love begins to happen!
Another inspiration has to be Ralph Lauren. He is a genuine, kind man who always takes an interest in my personal life. I remember once sitting with him on the stairs of his then-new women’s flagship store on Madison Avenue. Before we even started, he asked me how how I and my family were doing.
Diane von Furstenberg, who is the chairwoman of the CFDA, is another wonderful and inspirational woman. I’ve known her for a very long time. She grew up in Belgium, the daughter of a Holocaust survivor. She created her own destiny and was able to come to New York, rise to the top of the fashion industry and to this day, she continues to inspire other women, and men.
If you look at the ratio of female versus male designers, it’s still strongly tilted towards men, and that has to change.
At the CFDA, we are working on several initiatives to improve the gender gap. We just announced a comprehensive study on women in fashion with Glamour magazine called The Glass Runway. We are also focusing on diversity. Why is the industry lacking diversity? What actionable plan is there for us to ensure that the equal opportunity truly exists? We are happy to see more diversity on the runways and in the pages of magazines like Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, but it’s not enough. We want to see diversity at all levels of the industry, from the runways to the boardrooms. Fashion should reflect our country in all its diversity. Talent should determine success in fashion. Ethnicity or gender identity should never become a barrier to the top of our industry. If we don’t work to create change, nothing will ever change. I recently moderated a panel on diversity, politics and race in fashion. A major question was where we can start to implement change. It in in schools, is it at work? Role models will play a big role. We also need to empower the new generation to think without barriers and let their talent shine.
A: Who will be the next generation to make it big? The millennial generation is the next generation. Is it possible to exceed the designers of PRADA, Chanel, etc.?
M: The landscape has changed. Retail has changed. Department stores are consolidating. Ralph Lauren went to Bloomingdales with a box of ties, and become the most successful American fashion designer. Perhaps that opportunity doesn’t exist any more, or at least it’s even more challenging to come by.
Consumer attitudes have shifted. People mix designer with mass fashion. Millennials are looking to put money into different areas: electronics, travel, or other experiences. We have the talent, but they have to think outside the proverbial box and translate their aesthetic to a new generation.
Millennials get information from non-traditional places, but they are still interested in trends. Luxury brands focus will on millennials because they represent the next generation of consumers. Eventually, they will get married, have kids, buy a house, and with that lifestyle, there will hopefully be a need for nice clothes.. What’s important for luxury brands is to start speaking to millennials now to get them in the future.
Social media has removed the sense of mystery. Mystery is like an aphrodisiac and creates desire. This is an industry that is driven by desire. Hermes, with the Birkin or Kelly bags, is a good example of the elusiveness that everyone aspires to have. Hermes is also a brand that never marks down.
The media landscape is changing too, as more people have a voice. We will see how the blogger and influencer phemonomom plays out. Influencers get paid by the brands to promote their product. Millennials are smart enough to see the difference. Why should I trust the person if they were being paid by the brand they are promoting? Will there be more rules on ethics? Will [bloggers] need to be more transparent? Magazines are challenged because more people get information online. They have to translate their brand equity to online platforms, and monetizing online editorial platforms continues to be less lucrative than print once was.
This weekend, as I was running some errands, I bought an issue of Vogue and Vanity Fair on the newsstand because I wanted to read the actual magazine. I didn’t want to spend the rest of the day on my computer or checking social media on my phone. It provided me with something solid, and I really enjoyed it! When I was on a flight to Singapore recently, I told everyone that I would have WiFi on the plane. When we took off, I realized there was no WiFI. After suffering from an hour or two withdrawal, I read a book, and the experience was so rewarding.
A: What is your advice for young people entering the fashion industry?
M: You have to have a real passion for itbecause chances are you won’t be financially rewarded the way many are in sectors such as finance. You will work long hours and often travel and be away from home a lot, and there is often no big financial reward that compensates for this, so you must do it out of passion,
My advice to teenagers is to be prepared to work really hard, and to always believe in yourself and your love for the industry. Always know that there are many wonderful people who will help you – this industry is very supportive. To quote DVF, ‘fear is not an option.’ Fearlessness can implement itself in so many ways. In design, taking an aesthetic risk can pay off. Adam Selmon made a completely transparent dress four years ago which started the trend of people wearing sheer to red carpet events: Beyonce, Catherine Zeta Jones, Kim Kardashian… He created something new that shifted the eye. People see this look now, and find that it’s acceptable to be semi-nude.
Think about DVF and the wrap dress which really changed the way women dress and empowered them in the workplace. Sometimes it’s not as much as design innovation as it is about clothing that makes you feel good and empowers to be the best version of yourself and accomplish all that wish to do.
When I started in the industry in the mid-90s, it was that moment of Sex and the City, when Sarah Jessica Parker would dress up to go out with friends, and wear pouf skirts with tank tops and hoop earrings. The look may have been over the top, but it empowered women to be more playful with their fashion choices.
More recently, you see the influence of Gucci. People are more experimental and open to embroideries and embellishments. They mix and match things from different decades in a magpie way. Athleisure is also a trend that doesn’t seem to go away. Personally, I don’t want to see people in gym clothes in a restaurant, but people aren’t dressing up as much anymore, and designers are trying to cater to that.
A: Are designers getting bored?
M: I wouldn’t say that they are getting bored; however, they are all challenged to create that the wow factor. That goes back to mystery, elusiveness, and exclusivity. Everything is too available and at your fingertips. When you spend your time on Instagram all day, it feels nothing can wow you anymore because you see so much. That’s where storytelling comes in. Brands like Chanel and Ralph Lauren do a fantastic job with the way they continue to tell a story.
When the Calvin Klein underwear ads featuring the Kardashian-Jenner clan broke, it was a play to reach a wide swath of America that loves what these women stand for. Whether or not you like them, those ads will probably speak to a customer who may not buy the pricier runway collection, but they will buy the underwear and jeans. From a reach and impressions perspective, the campaign was genius! Think about how many people the family reaches when you aggregate their following. Note that legacy of Calvin Klein is different from a Chanel. Calvin Klein is driven by marketing – great clothes, too – but marketing set it into the fashion stratosphere. People always talked about the Calvin campaign and this one was no different – everyone noted how Kylie Jenner was covering her pregnancy with a Calvin Klein blanket.
Hermes would never take the approach of brands that sell underwear, activewear, jeans and other licensed categories because that is not right for them. Their essence is luxury; that’s what drives sales, not second and third lines.
The revival of Gucci with Tom Ford in the 90s was the ultimate in desirability right after a minimalism phase. It was a drab era in fashion, and the consumer was longing for desirable clothes. Ford shifted the fashion vocabulary during those years and built a global business.
A: Where do you think the next five years will be like for the fashion industry?
M: I wish I knew! A fashion executive told me not too long ago that ‘In order to be successful, you have to create something that is really special.’ Designers need to create something with value and emotion.
We will definitely see more sustainability. What was once considered ‘crunchy, hippy and granola’ is anything but that today. Fashion houses will not just look at sustainable fabrics and processes – organic dyes that don’t harm the environment, for example – but also their carbon footprint and ways they can minimize it. If you want to speak to millennials, you have to address these things.
I’m excited about the next decade in fashion. We are all expecting designers to show us something different. Yes, they face enormous challenges, but challenges are also blessings, because they will force us to move forward.