During Nineteenth Amendment’s first ‘Meet the Buyer’ series, we chatted with former retail buyer Katja Noschis Delaloyle, the founder of La Gabardine (@la_gabardine) and first employee hired by Natalie Massenet of Net-a-Porter who helped launch Mr. Porter (Net-a-Porter men’s division). She speaks five languages and brings over twenty years of working experience in the fashion industry from a masters in fashion management from SDA Bocconi in Milan to buyer at Swiss luxury retailer Bon Génie-Grieder. Below are highlights and takeaways from the chat:
- Fashion is an industry of will, not need. You must sell it. Know your story and your product. Smile!
- Be confident. Make sure you are confident about what gap you fill in the market. Be confident about the way you speak about your brand and your enthusiasm for the brand
- Maximize brand assets. A good example of a brand asset for Gucci is Gucci’s distinctive logo colors. If you look at what the creative director is doing, he is heavily leveraging on the best of brand assets to create new products. For emerging brands, it is typically the story and enthusiasm of the designer. Find your brand story or operational efficiency and use it to your advantage!
- Buyers are real people. They get tired. They need to be entertained. Make sure you deliver with selling speech and a great pitch. Be sure to turn on energy
- Everyone is a potential customer. Whether your best friend of stranger on the street. Be convincing and always wear your product.
- Know your roadmap. Have a good idea of where you want to be and what you are doing to get there. Buyers have a very specific calendar so may sure you are reaching out at the best time. If you are trying to break through the clutter – try reaching out between seasons in October or May.
- Be on top of your logistics. Have a yearly program for how you want to plan your deliveries.
- US and European buyers are different. The US is much more casual. Consider that as you plan your markets and assortment. Generally, Europeans are more fashion savvy and better at styling clothes. This is reflected in the way that buyers buy. Europe will buy more breadth in styles at lower volumes.
- Test different markets with big retailers. Retailers can give you sales by region and help you discover new markets without having to operate in all of them.
- Instagram is changing the game (but we knew that right?!). Access to the product now is almost instantaneous. The old fashion world is trying to adapt but infrastructure for production is clunky in old retailers. But this creates an opportunity for nimbler brands (with Nineteenth Amendment! Hint hint)
- Study how your customer buys clothes. Does she buy seasonally? Weekly? Who is your customer and what does she want?
- You can have continuity products and exclusive, scarce styles. Some products you can have that are core of you collection – don’t need to change and can have high margin. Exclusive styles can help create demand.
- Young designers think the customer will just come. In order to create sales, you should try more traditional ways of getting attention. Send information to media and press – if the story is enticing, they will write. They are always looking for something new. Try snail mailing!
- Try for the junior buyer. They have to prove themselves so if there is a really cool brand (aka yours!) thy can put forward, they will become your biggest advocate.
- Make sure the retailer is a fit. Spend time checking which brands and categories of products they buy and that they fit with your brand.
- Follow up, follow up, follow up. Once you establish a connection with a buyer, send them small reminders, notes, and updates on your brand. Make it easy for them to follow what you are doing!
PRO TIP FROM NINETEENTH AMENDMENT:
Want to get names of buyers in your immediate network? Try using Dux Soup Chrome extension to generate a list of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree buyer connections.
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