Although I am newly appointed as Nashville Edit’s Fashion and Social Media Director, I’ve been personally invested in Nashville’s fashion industry in addition to keeping up with global industry news and trends for a little over five years. My undergraduate education focused on the business side of fashion, and throughout those four years, I found myself diving deeper into fashion’s rather strange calendar, the retail buying process, and the importance of good garment construction (and exactly what that looks like). Attending my first New York Fashion Week as an editor felt surreal, however, my next fashion week (whenever that may be) I will be watching with a new set of eyes, as both an editor and a buyer for my brainchild, MODISTE that will be launching online this Fall with same-day delivery for Nashville.
This new endeavor has allowed me to put my education to the test but in today’s unprecedented circumstances, it’s a strange process for all parties involved. There are digital and live-streamed fashion shows, there are Zoom calls to walk through line sheets, and some brands are even sending fabric swatches allowing buyers to have a better idea of the fabrication (an incredible innovation for the time, honestly). For me, being that MODISTE came to life amidst a pandemic, this is the only buying experience I know. However, it became very clear when talking with several veteran Nashville boutique owners that this “new normal” is far from the industry norm.
Claudia Fowler of Haven, Hero, and Parish, has only had one digital appointment as she finished her buying through November back in February (re fashion’s strange calendar). However, being that her “buying process is 90% in person, touching, feeling not only with [her] eyes but hands as well,” placing future orders without feeling the clothes will take some adjusting. In regards to the future of trends, and specifically the outlook on Fall 2020 fashion, despite experiencing a few shipments being delayed, Claudia is optimistic. Personally, she hasn’t felt the need to change any styles or orders she’s placed, as she “strongly believes in [her] team and [their] connections with [her] loyal customer base of 13 years.” The slowdown in foot traffic has required some adjusting but knows it will get better with time as her stylish shoppers need retail therapy come the new season.
Chuck Mallett, Gus Mayer’s president, explained the above-and-beyond nature of Gus Mayer’s customer service allowed them to adapt to today’s modern circumstances with relative ease: “At Gus Mayer, we have always regarded customer service and exceeding our client’s expectations as our number one reason for being. We have only expanded and amplified those services throughout this experience. Appointment selling before opening and after closing, in-home styling sessions, curbside pick-up, and free delivery are just a few of the ways we have worked to meet our customers where they are and where they feel the most secure.” Compared to last year’s Fall/Winter buy, Chuck admits there was a bit of a downshift in the style and quantity runs. Not only is the retail business feeling it, but of course, designers and manufacturers are as well. Because of the interconnectedness of the fashion supply chain, Chuck’s advice to the customer is, “If you see something you love, buy it. Chances are there will be less available. The risks are too great for retailers and manufacturers alike.”
Despite the bumps in the road (and in 2020 as a whole), Fall and Winter will still arrive, as will colder temperatures. Whether you choose to utilize those knits from last year or opt for a little retail therapy in the coming weeks, that’s up to you. At TNE, we love supporting our local boutiques and I know I’ll be popping in on occasion or utilizing one of their accommodating services this season.