How is buying evolving in the age of phygital seasons and the metaverse?
During the pandemic, the merchant teams at Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman and I have become very adaptable to the varied buying processes, given the current reliance on virtual viewing and buying. We have become very adept at using the numerous platforms and virtual showrooms with varied levels of development and sophistication for our “live” online appointments.
Some designers have developed very advanced 3D modeling of their actual physical spaces, duplicated online for buying purposes, making it seem that one is viewing the actual showroom, choosing garments from racks and seeing specific information about each piece as well as viewing on figure. Many brands employ technology that allows us to view models online in real time in their showrooms, changing into garments upon request for better viewing, close ups, and to see looks in motion.
The expansive technology in this area has made this momentarily-necessary means of buying as effective as possible but there is still no perfect substitute to being in an actual showroom with collections – seeing and feeling the fabrics, textures, and weights; viewing garments on figure in real life.
How are you approaching buying this season, where physical appointments (and life) are back but much of the fashion process remains digital?
We had been very much looking forward to returning to the physical showrooms this season and doing the majority of our buys in person both in Europe and the U.S. but we had to pivot very quickly to the virtual realm given the necessary precautions needed. We are now following a hybrid model where we are conducting many of our designer appointments online while also visiting the New York showrooms of brands when possible to augment the virtual viewing. The combination has been effective.
Tailoring vs. Streetwear: who could win the match this time?
So far this fall season there has been a very welcome elevation in the menswear we’re seeing, with a renewed interest in sophistication and a dressed-up elegance. There is a focus on tailoring in relaxed, easier proportions and styled in a more casual yet polished way. We’ve seen the return of the tailored topcoat seen anew with easier, more generous shapes. Evening and occasion-based clothing continues to be a focus and an area of development given the growing return of gatherings. There is an inherent optimism in the attitude of the fashion we’re seeing, representing a yearning for connection and togetherness.
What’s in your fantasy wardrobe for Fall 2022?
I am really drawn to all the magnificent, tailored coats that we’re seeing across collections. They feel fresh, constructed with slightly exaggerated proportions, an extended shoulder or sleeve, with textural trims and detailing. The knitwear I’ve seen is especially strong, with an emphasis on statement-making sweaters with bold color fields, graphics, and jacquards. Men’s leather goods have become more and more abbreviated, with smaller shapes dominating the market, and cross-body bags taking the lead. And I will certainly have a hard time choosing from among this season’s new “it” sneakers.