Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Pacific Northwest Collection

I get excited about new clothes in the spring, and especially this year, since I've now spent a year contracted with a modeling agency and thinking more about how I look. I've spent a lot of time lately looking into the home trunk show business.
Originally, I knew about this business model from Doncaster, which was very successful in Memphis. Later, Worth came to town; my stepmother bought me my first real suit from one of the early Worth collections. Why didn't I keep that legacy piece?! Well, yes, I'd be proud to still have it hanging in my closet, but truly, how many opportunities do I have to wear a red linen suit in my Pacific Northwest life? It worked great when I lived in Puerto Rico....
The idea of selling fantastic clothes in my own home is very exciting to me (even if I might choose a storefront), and I love the idea of a whole fashion season that comes direct-to-the-shopper four times a y ear. Just the one label, the consistency of that, how they add pieces based on previous seasons, each season elaborates on the last. Both as a consumer and a marketer I like that you wouldn't be style-toggling between a number of designers; it seems so much more streamlined to have, yes, an abundance of choices, but to have the field just be a little more narrow and inter-related than it is when you walk into a boutique that represents several designers. That seems to carry a lot of authority.
But as excited as I get when I look at http://worthny.com/ and etcetera, at http://www.etcetera.com/ or the others, like Carlisle Collection and Doncaster (although -- see below about the Doncaster model), I have to admit that those beautiful clothes would be a hard sell in my life and the lives of my friends. On the fashion-needs continuum, there's office-to-evening, carpool-to-cocktail and barn-to-evening, and Kitsap County is decidedly in the last category.
So what would a collection have to look like to work here? Two distinct issues come immediately to mind.
First is shoes. Most of the people I live around and to whom I'd love selling clothes, do not work from nine to five, five days a week in clean and heated offices. We are running in and out of our kids' schools, our own yards and barnyards, farmers' markets and grocery stores and, if we're treating ourselves really well, a coffee shop. Also, the occasional ferry. And the car, the car, the car. As much as we hate it, we almost always hear the full two hours of All Things Considered every weekday as we drive around in the car.
So a fashion collection on which we could rely would have to protect our feet and make them fashionable. I've got a pair of black Manolo pumps that Liz Weigel gave me that work for a lot of stuff as long as it isn't raining, but when I was running around North Kitsap today checking out horses boarding facilities, I was in a pair of Dansko clogs. None of the businesses I'm researching offers footwear, and I'm sure they've got a really good reason for that, but I know none of the shoes they show their collections in would work for my life.
The second issue a home fashion collection would have to address is how cold we are. Summer collections are now posted at Worth, Carlisle, Etcetera and Per Se, but we won't be ready for summer clothes for six months, and there are some years I never put the sweaters away. Our ongoing challenge is how to stay warm and look cute. And for me it's not a matter of having a cotton cardigan to put over a sundress. I need layers!
I would love the idea of making a living and helping North Kitsap dress up, but until there's a collection that combines fashionable, legacy-apparel with our beloved Carhartt's lifestyle, how successful would it be?
(*Oh, and here's the note about Doncaster: Why are they selling their clothes online? What consultant wants to compete with that?)

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