Not long ago, I used to own a few clothing boutiques. We used to have a very personalized touch to fashion, which was far beyond the items that we sold in our store. I couldn't count the number of times that that level of personalization led us to making house-calls for clients at all hours during the night. Frankly, why wouldn't we? We would be in our customers' closets on a weekly basis- helping with everything from curating daily wardrobes to packing suitcases for holiday. We threw events at snazzy boutique hotels, where we would have champagne and cheese and sell tens of thousands of dollars in crafted frocks.
It's a wonderful feeling when you are able to walk out of a fun evening where your customers have a smile across their faces, and you, as a business, are able to make your entire months plan with only a few sales. Our job was to understand their lifestyle and find clothing and pieces to help perfect and complete that lifestyle. We offered a line of credit to some of our more seasoned, trust-worthy customers; the same kind of house account you can find at luxury jewelers like Cartier (Red Card) and Tiffany (Time Account). We didn't have a name for this service, and upon reflection, I wish that we did along with one of those fabulous membership cards that make you feel like you are part of the "in-crowd". Besides, this service was created exclusively for those customers that would spend over $5k USD all the way up to $25k USD. These customers accounted for less than 1% of customers, but more than 30% of sales: the kind of women that would spend $15K USD a go. If someone we knew wanted a few months to pay for their purchase, we always thought, "why on earth would we ever say no?" Those were the days; money was growing on trees and we could sell anything.
Since the high-times of the mid-2000's, the fashion business has since changed rather drastically. When I first opened shop, brick and mortar retail was something you did. There were a select few companies that were online and doing relatively well, but those were big-brands (J.Crew) or fashion conglomerates that had built their name during the late 90's (Net-a-porter). We didn't understand customer acquisition, purchasing behavior or big data. We understood demographics, psychographics and trend.
Boy, times have changed. I always thought I should have opened up some sort of online e-commerce store; whether it would have sold clothes, design items or curated pieces from around the globe- you name it, it's most likely been done, but I do happen to have a lot of respect for those entrepreneurs that have taken the plunge and built such wonderful stores in the digital era.
Coco wears an Etro Silk Blouse (updated version from this season, since mine from was last season & you won't be able to find it), Vince Skinny Trousers (similar, but I got mine at the outlet store for $110 on sale and they are my new favorite pants), Pierre Hardy Suede Heels and a Saint Laurent Tote. Photography: Bethany Halbreich