I realize that this is a men’s magazine. However, since many of MR’s retail subscribers also carry women’s apparel, here’s a story that got me thinking.
Stuck at home for these many months, glued to the TV and various other screens, I’ve found many opportunities to quietly criticize current fashion trends. I’m so tired of the cold-shoulder look. And sick of seeing female chefs prepare elaborate dishes while wearing floaty tops with long ruffled sleeves that risk landing in the sauce. One day I almost posted on social media about the questionable fashion choices of male and female newscasters. (The bright spot always Al Roker, Craig Melvin, Norah O’Donnell.) Fortunately, I refrained.
Then yesterday, I purchased on impulse a trendy girly dress that featured not one but two details I ordinarily abhor: puffed sleeves and ruffled hems. All in one garment! Generally, my style is far from sweet: camo is my print, or bold ethnic florals. This dress would have been a “never,” although buying it in black made it a bit less cloying
So I got to pondering: were I still in the luxury retail business, what fresh-looking items could I bring in to surprise and delight my customers? Do I have the staff to sell them imaginatively as shoppers awake from hibernation? There are still items in my closet (from the store I once owned in Greenwich, CT) that my associates referred to as Holly’s Follies. Ironically, many years later, these are the clothes I love the most.
The point is this: if there were ever a time to step out of the box and spend some precious OTB on whimsy, it is now. Your customers are bored with hoodies and joggers! That soft seersucker or camo sportcoat? Perfect, even if your core customers would NEVER try it on unless encouraged by a passionate seller. Print pants or shorts? Make it a promotion: Guys bring in a pair of pandemic pants they never want to see again, you clean and donate them, offering a percentage off a more contemporary pair. Upcycling, community involvement, and partnerships, all a small cost to your business and a lot of great PR. After all, the cost of staying in business this past year far exceeded the current risk of injecting some fun back onto your selling floor. Why not feature a special conversation piece or two and gift a few pieces to local influencers. The free press on social media could prove priceless!
So find the fun again, and “Never Say Never.” I might end up not wearing my frilly new dress more than once before handing it down to someone infinitely sweeter than I. But it represents something much bigger; it represents hope. Find the hope, share it with your customers, and broadcast the joy of fashion.
Holly Adam is former men’s fashion director at Bloomingdale’s and an independent store owner in Greenwich, CT. She now runs a catering business in Stamford, CT: Shop, Chop, Cook!