The economy, catastrophe, congressional stalemates: there’s little in this world we can change as easily as our clothes.
Hickey Freeman president Mike Cohen has a new pet peeve: the unprofessional appearance of so many industry executives. “It’s ironic that buyers get so frustrated when their customers are not turned on, yet they put so little care into their own appearance. It was clearly an issue at the last MRket show: so few retailers looked like they were there to work! Isn’t wearing nice clothing what this whole thing is all about? (And what’s wrong with wearing a tie now and then?)”
He goes on to share a story about being out to dinner with a group of industry execs during market week. “I ran into a friend at the restaurant, a successful insurance guy who lives around the block from me and who loves clothes (to the point that if he likes something I’m wearing, he’ll run out the next day and buy it!). We chatted for a while until I told him I had to rejoin my group. ‘I bet I can tell you which ones at that table are in the fashion industry,’ he wagered. I didn’t have the heart to tell him we were all in the fashion industry…”
A true believer in the power of fashion inspiration, Cohen goes on to suggest that retailers provide a reasonable clothing allowance to their associates on the selling floor and that vendors have contests in the stores so that top sellers can win clothing, etc. “It seems so obvious,” he laments, “but no one seems to be raising the bar…”
Thinking about Mike’s mission (and knowing I’m as guilty as anyone), I’m personally resolving to dress better in 2013. Trust me: this is not an easy resolution; within my family, I’m known as the one who never looks quite right. My mother used to say that she could send me to Bergdorfs with an unlimited credit card and I’d still come out looking disheveled, whereas my beautiful sister Vicki could run in to Marshalls with twenty bucks and always come out looking elegant… (My own mother! You see why I have issues?)
Okay, I realize there are numerous New Year’s resolutions we could be making that are far more important than wearing better clothes. We could volunteer, give more to charity, rebuild the homes of hurricane victims, feed the hungry, become nicer people… But those things are hard! Dressing well takes just a little bit of focus, flair and foresight. (Okay, a few extra bucks doesn’t hurt!) And if each of us were to become a fashion role model and thus inspire even a few other people, just think what it could do for apparel sales at retail!
From all of us here at MR, we wish you a year filled with health and happiness, love and laughter, wonderful business and some fabulous new clothes!