Best Buyers 2012: Suzanne Jones, Bloomingdale’s

by Elise Diamantini

Keeping up with Jones: Bloomingdale’s Suzanne Jones is up on the latest trends.

Between the recent music collaborations and bustling 59th Street store, the energy on Bloomingdale’s contemporary floor is rocking. It’s not surprising to learn that Suzanne Jones, Bloomingdale’s denim and trend buyer, is a huge music fan. Her first concert was the Rolling Stones when she was in junior high. “I’ve always loved classic rock: The Beatles and Zeppelin…” Jones says they’ve been working on music collaborations (something that might also be influenced by her GMM David Fisher, another music fanatic…) like an exclusive T-shirt with John Varvatos and Matchbox 20. “It was featured on the cover of our men’s magazine, followed by an in-store appearance on Fashion’s Night Out. Matchbox 20 is releasing a new album, so it brought in a lot of people. We have some other great exclusive collaborations paired with in-store events happening this month.”

Jones began her career in the men’s department at Bloomingdale’s 10 years ago. “I grew up in Cincinnati and my mom’s friend was a buyer for Shillito’s (which is now Macy’s). Her job sounded so interesting. I’ve always loved math and fashion, so I studied apparel merchandising and business at Indiana University. I came to New York for a summer class and immediately fell in love with the city and with Bloomingdale’s. I met with one of their recruiters, interned my junior and senior years and have been here ever since.”

Jones started in private label men’s, then held assistant buying and planning positions in various departments and has been buying denim and trend for the past four years. “I buy from about 45 vendors and of those, 20 are denim brands.” Current best sellers in denim are colored and coated styles, and in non-denim, they’ve had a good response to corduroy. “Vintage washes are starting to check, too. Based on early fall selling, we’ll continue to go after color and vintage/destruction for spring. Basic, clean styles will always be the staple, but new washes, treatments and color are creating excitement and getting guys to update their denim wardrobes.”

In sportswear, knits have been selling, as well as outerwear, particularly leather. For spring, Jones is excited about prints and patterns. “You might not necessarily think to pair some of them together, but it looks great! Buying denim and trend when the economy was starting to go down, I felt like everyone played it a little safe and it was hard because we wanted that newness. The vendor community has done a great job of giving it to us.”

Part of her success in buying is due to her eye for fashion, and the ability to pinpoint her customer. “I look at my business by region and by store because you need to target those customers a little bit differently. Working closely with our stores and the fashion office to identify trends and strengths in each market has helped improve business.”

Jones attributes much of what’s she’s learned to her mentor and GMM, David Fisher. “He’s a visionary. Just watching him and seeing how he interacts with people has helped me as a buyer. What he’s done with the men’s floor over the past 10 years has been unbelievable. He allows you to take risks, he empowers you and is very supportive.

“I’ve learned that you have to be open to change, because you really never know where the industry will go. It’s also important to keep up that curiosity. You never know what you’re going to learn and from who. It’s about being open.”