If fashion retailers have a reputation for sticking to themselves, it’s because they have no choice but to be. We work in a highly competitive industry. But you can’t always escape the feeling that our reluctance to share the insights of experience sometimes hinders a healthy and beneficial conversation.
This week’s EDITIONS NYC was a big (and wonderful) step in the right direction. We invited members of New York’s fashion retail community to come out and lend their voices to a conversation about retail trends and best practices. And we owe it to all of them for an excellent night!
This month’s event kicked off as Whitney Pozgay, designer of WHIT, described to the assembled audience of buyers and merchandisers how she turned her creative brand into a successful business with a strong niche and buy-in from top retailers like Anthropologie, Saks Fifth Avenue and Moda Operandi.
“You go into it with a passion for design and you have to run a business,” Pozgay told moderator deb.li. “A huge part of it is running a business. The creative, unfortunately, does take a backseat. Balancing your time becomes the biggest challenge.”
Speaking on the brand-buyer relationship at WHIT and how she balances retail feedback, Pozgay said she likes “harsh feedback” from buyers, but stressed it doesn’t steer WHIT away from its narrative, adding, she keeps her brand “nimble without losing brand identity”.
“You don’t have to be everything to everyone. Figure out what you’re best at, get known for that.”
It was a simple but potent message, and one shared unanimously by our panelists Julia Liu, Director of Merchandise at GILT, Laura Holman, Director of Buying and Merchandising at Valentino, and Kate Wallace, Senior Designer at Club Monaco later in the evening.
“Sometimes as a designer you’re off on a flight of fantasy, thinking what you’re doing is wonderful. That’s not going to work for everyone,” said Wallace. “You really have to listen to [your buyers]. You’ve got to get to a place where you keep the integrity”.
Integrity of course is not exclusive to Club Monaco. At Valentino, Holman said, trends are about “making a selection which represents the message”. She also highlighted the importance of maintaining a selection with depth, accommodating the one-time and repeat shoppers simultaneously. To that end, she said she doesn’t follow a ‘chase strategy’ (where an open-to-buy budget allows a retailer to go after any trend gaps in their assortment) because of the long lead times on ready-to-wear. Instead, in-season management focuses on store-to-store transfer.
Finally, we rounded off the night touching on the current debate around seasonality and immediacy to buy. “Getting customers to engage and have that instant gratification is great for the full price business,” said Liu.
There were so many more wonderful moments and insights, but we don’t have room to list them all! A huge thanks to all our fantastic speakers and to everyone that attended the event. We’ll see you all next time!
London, get ready! EDITIONS is headed your way next month.
Want to speak at EDITIONS in either London or New York? Let us know! We’ve got a great list of current topics and burning questions to share with our industry colleagues – we’d love to hear where your expertise fits in. Drop us a line to email@example.com.