It's The People
Brands sabotage themselves when they employ staff unable to effectively engage customers on a personal level. Businesses value the acquisition of new customers but often undervalue the importance of recruiting staff that can effectively connect with them in order to retain their custom. Fashion is only ever intimidating because of the people associated with it, and it is evident that the right people in fashion, within certain brands, are a key reason those brands thrive in the industry.
"I don't really connect with clothing. My connection with fashion is always with the people.
There was this guy called Liam who was the manager at TopShop in Takapuna. Liam got to know Sam [Cable] well and would chat to him about what he was in to. Then, whenever things would come in, Liam would put them aside and put Sam's name on them and would send him a message saying, 'there are a couple of cool things in the store and I'll put them aside for you for the next time you're in'. Nine times out of ten, Sam would buy whatever Liam put aside for him because Liam personalised the shopping experience for him. And Sam would make a trip all the way to Takapuna solely for that one store because of it. For Sam, it was nothing to do with the brand but everything to do with the person there.
I think of this because of my own role in retail as a manager. It's the environment and culture you create within your stores that actually draws people in and keeps them coming back. My whole theory around why I shop at places like Good as Gold is because of the personal connection and because of the way they approach me and talk to me about everything. It makes me feel like I'm on the in. Because I'm not big into fashion, but like every other human I have to buy clothes, and it makes me feel a little awkward with brands I don't recognize, or if I ask a question and get shut down, or actually having somebody that just doesn't come up to me and talk to me about it when I'm there in the store. Whereas it makes fashion more accessible for me if the person in the store talks to me about it; That really breaks down barriers and keeps me coming back."
(Conversation with The Block NZ Season 5 Winner, and città COO Emmett Vallendar.)