Q: The product at the fall menswear shows looked good, but there was nothing new. What do you think we need to do to jump start the men’s clothing business?
Steve Pruitt: Yes, you’re correct, the new seasonal goods do look beautiful, but there are no new trends to latch onto. But, don’t fear because this will not last forever. We will see a change in fashion. Of course, the question is when?
What I can assure you is that the merchants who spend the most time searching for new fashion will be the first to find it. This is why we are called buyers.
Let me paint a picture. You plan your trip to New York or perhaps Chicago, you book the flight, and the surprisingly expensive hotel. Then, you fill the time mostly with appointments and if there are a few extra minutes you wander the shows trying to uncover the new golden nuggets. Does this sound familiar? Because this is the story I always hear when I ask the question, “How do you plan your buying trip?”
I believe this is a lost opportunity. I would recommend a change in how you approach your buying. Schedule more time at the show, perhaps two full days just for wandering, and then add another day or two for shopping stores. When you’re shopping the stores keep your eyes on the customers. How are they responding to the product, and more importantly, the presentation?
Remember, most customers are looking for the experience, not the clothes. Choose to visit stores you aspire to be. Look at them often and see how they evolve. Many times the best stores are small stores, not the monsters. These bright little guys are where you will find the new opportunities. Try this different approach and let me know how you do.
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