Isn’t shopping such a stimulating pastime? I always find it exciting going into each store, ogling the mannequins, watching all the busy salespeople run about, and checking out what the other shoppers are interested in. Yes, there is more to shopping than just buying clothes. It’s more of an experience — an adventure, if you will. However, it’s an experience that often becomes more of a task, and sometimes a nightmare. There are those times when your feet are in pain from walking around all day, your head is pounding from loud store music blaring, or that pesky salesperson is pressuring you into purchasing something that is obviously unflattering on you. These are some components of the shopping experience that I can always do without.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could avoid all of the stress and hassle that comes with shopping at crowded department stores and boutiques (where the salespeople aren’t concerned with how you look or feel in your clothes)? Imagine shopping in the comfort of your home — or the home of a friend — where you’ll be free from lines at the fitting room and obnoxious, impatient shoppers behind you at the check out. Imagine building a relationship with sales assistants who know your likes and dislikes, what types of pieces you’ll need for which events you’ll be attending, and will be honest with you when something just doesn’t work for you. Actually, that does exist. And I’m not talking about pricey personal shoppers and stylists that serve Hollywood royalty. Right here in the Valley you can have someone work with you, helping you build your wardrobe from season to season.
These days esteemed fashion houses like Carlisle and Bill Blass New York are selling exclusively through sales associates, who basically bring the store to the consumer. About four times a year, the associates debut sample collections in their home or showroom and invite clients and friends to try on the merchandise. This has become such a profitable method of retail that, according to Marshall Cohen, chief retail analyst at the NDP Group (a market research company), “Direct to market sales are growing at triple the rate of on-line fashion sales. It’s now a billion-dollar business.” Since we always like to stay on top of all of the new trends in fashion and shopping, it’s clearly time for us to jump on the bandwagon.
Today kicks off the Bill Blass New York trunk show. I spoke with Melissa McCoy-Garzione, a BBNY fashion consultant based in Newburgh, and got all of the details on why shopping a trunk show is better than department stores, and what she can do for you and your wardrobe.
What is a trunk show?
The trunk show is a boutique-type setting of a season’s collection(s) presented within the comfort of a private residence (or location of the choosing) by a Sales Consultant. The location houses the 250+ pieces for a period of six days. During this timeframe, interested individuals can schedule a time to come and view the collection; have a presentation of the style, line, and quality; and have a fitting to assist with the most flattering pant style, garment styles, as well as color. The trunk show is basically a traveling salon that brings the couture to the client.
So you can only purchase the collection at the show?
The collection is presented in a “sample set” to have styles and a broad spectrum of sizes to determine the correct sizes. BBNY is only available for purchase through this manner, which makes the items very exclusive. They will not be seen at Neiman’s, Saks, Bergdorf’s, etc. Once a two-season timeframe leaves, the collections are no longer available. All items are paid for upon order entry and most are available within seven business days. (Sometimes demand may alter this.)
In what ways do you help someone select different pieces from the collection?
The trunk show provides true personal “one-on-one” service. Preference is to work with one client at a time (1 – 1 ½ hours) to provide personal service — however, if you prefer, you may attend with a friend. I work with the client to determine style, fit, and color; build a wardrobe; add a specialty piece; create a mix-and-match work or travel wardrobe; and provide the opportunity of couture style and tailored clothing in an area which caters to off-the-rack mass styling. Our clothes will never be sold in season at a retail venue — only in the private appointment-setting atmosphere.
Who are your clients?
It is very much for the discriminating shopper who might not have time — or even like shopping — to have personalized service right here in the Valley. No more trips to NYC. However, I do take clients on a personal showroom visit as well if they prefer or are not in town the week of my show. Many women in NYC and social communities are familiar with salon appointments.
What are the benefits of your services?
In the department stores, for the most part, you’re trying to make your selections with some assistance from a salesperson. You carry your things to the dressing room, yell out for someone to get something in another size, and contemplate the use and wear-ability of the purchase. Salespersons are usually helping others and covering other things as well. At the trunk show, you get ALL the attention. I walk clients through each season’s collection — as it is always 100 percent new. I talk to the client about upcoming events or needs and can direct them quickly to appropriate garments in the line. I can select or help select the clothes; set you in the dressing area; get new sizes; cuff the pants; belt the jacket; and suggest options and styles when requested. And I keep a file on every client for their sizes, color preferences, previous purchases, etc., so I can work with them to build their wardrobe from previous seasons and colorways when they arrive — or order an extra item they might have not purchased but changed their mind. They just call me and I place the order. All items are ordered and received, beautifully packaged or garment bag-hung and delivered to their home or office personally. What a way to shop, huh?!
Bill Blass New York is the only luxury label in the direct sale apparel industry. It launched its premier collection in July 2006. The luxury lifestyle line, sold through private trunk shows by sales consultants throughout the U.S., features a range of styles from day to evening. Our management team is being headed by former execs from Dolce & Gabbana, Hilfiger, Karl Lagerfeld, etc. We are poised for great growth.
What drew you to this line of work?
I am an interior designer by trade and own an interior design firm as well. I am a very style-oriented and independent-driven person — I love working for myself and allowing the needs of my three children to be met as well. Had I not gone into I.D. I would have majored in Fashion. I added/joined BBNY as another business last year as it provides me with the flexibility for meeting my family’s needs and the opportunity to become entrenched in an iconic brand, bringing quality and style to the region. My clients are delighted with the opportunity to shop like this. Many are new to this venue and many shop Palm Beach and other regions of the world.
Melissa will show the 2008 summer and spring collections together from April 26th to May 2nd in Newburgh. Her next show won’t be until September 9th (for the Fall ’08 collection), so call her now to set up an appointment!
Bill Blass New York