Spring [Fashion] Forward

Hello everybody!

My goodness, it’s been awhile. I do apologize for the loss of time; I just moved into my new apartment last month and since then have been making it a point to spruce up the place and get my life together. But finally, and thankfully I have returned to my blog with a lot of plans for my future posts, and a whole lot of fashion ;).

It just sort of worked out perfectly that I wanted to write about spring fashion, and only days ago we set our clocks forward for spring! Yay daylight!

Here is a carefully curated collection of spring styles I’m looking forward to:

Note: WordPress is being a jerk right now and sorting my photos with every edit, so I do apologize if you follow a link to a different item. Hopefully, you can determine which item you’re looking for by my eloquent descriptions listed in the, “details.” I apologize for the inconvenience. Cheers! 

Dresses+Jumpers

Details [Top]: H&M Jumper, Anthropologie Slip DressUO Trapeze [Bottom] Free People KaftanH&M Open-Shoulder,  UO Off-the-Shoulder

Clearly, I’m attracted to flowy, loose, comfortable, off-the-shoulder trends this season. In  the early spring, I like to keep my colors muted neutrals, during this transition from winter to spring. Of course, you can always make it pop with your accessories. I will definitely get more into patterns, florals, and brighter colors the warmer it gets, and also around Easter.

Tops + Sweaters

Details [Top]: H&M Embroidered BlouseZara Embroidered BlouseH&M Knit Sweater [Bottom] Zara Knit PonchoZara Silver TH&M Long Linen T

So here’s the deal with my choice on tops, following along with the neutrals, I’ve thrown in some knits + sweaters. Now with normal St. Louis weather [ha!], it would probably be snowing today, and reach temperatures of 93° by tomorrow night. But, since this year just can’t stop being weird, we’ve been having some seasonably pleasant + mild weather. Spring in St. Louis is normally cooler until May, although I could be proven wrong this year, that’s why I think it’s important to include some cozy cover-ups. I’ve been following Summer Albarcha on Instagram for the past several months, and she has been a HUGE inspiration and influence on my personal style. She is fabulous! Again, I’m really into loose, comfy, [lots and LOTS of over-sized] tops with some skinnies, paired with a bootie or a slipper.

Pants + Trousers

Details [Top]: H&M Harem Pants, H&M White Slim Fit Pants, H&M Ripped Denims, H&M Fringe Shorts [Bottom] Zara Floral Trousers, H&M Twill Shorts

Here I go, talking about subtle neutrals in the early days of spring, and then I throw, arguably the loudest item, floral printed trousers, at you. So to be completely honest, I was attracted to these pants from the moment I laid my enormous eyeballs on them. I have a pair of white linen trousers that I long to wear but cannot because I am no longer a size 2 and I may or may have not ruined the hems. Lot’s of drunken literally-tripping-over-my-own-pants nights, but those are minor details and I digress. So when I saw these, I had to include them because one; they brought me back to my fond memories of my white linens, and two; although covered in pretties, the pastels are quite reasonable and light, you know, subtle. The nice thing about these pants  is, you can wear them all spring and summer. During the spring, match with a denim jacket, a comfy deep v-neck t or a tank with a super cute bandeau or bralette. And in the summer, a sweet crop top and wedges. I adore the harem pants from H&M. These kind of pants were all over Thailand and I now have like 3 pairs. I like to rock these with a, you’ve guessed it, loose tank + bralette. Word of caution, the H&M harem pants in particular, shrink like no other, so be sure to do a cold rinse cycle and air dry.

Jackets + Vests

Details [Top]: Target Duster, Anthropologie Stripe Jacket, Free People Embroidered Vest, [Bottom] H&M Cargo Jacket, Anthropologie Shawled Vest, UO Jacket Kimono

I am really into vests right now; like serious. I have so many ideas to create my own because you know there’s always something missing, but these, I thought were perfect. My favorite is the Free People embroidered vest which denotes my absolute adoration for the desert. I’m a super southwest state-of-mind girl living and dreaming in the mid-west. I cannot wait to incorporate more vests into my wardrobe. The H&M cargo jacket I realize is certainly not revolutionary and semi-outdated (at least as far as fashion trends go) but I love this style and for the price; yes, please.

Boots + Bags

Details [Top]: Target Fringe PumpRebecca Minkoff Clutch, Zara Slippers, [Mid] Target Ballet Flats, Freyrs Cat Eye Sunglasses,   Sam Edelman Mini,  Target Black Bootie, [Bottom] Sam Edelman Thong Zara Bucket Bag, Target Rain Boots

Oh how I love accessories. My shoe addiction is unnatural. Thankfully, I have student loans and a credit card to pay off…said no one ever. Thank you, younger Caitlin for ruining current Caitlin’s spending privileges. Not going to lie, I’m actually shocked fringe is still so hot. Don’t get me wrong, I love fringe, like really love it. But I’m surprised the fashion industry hasn’t ditched this for shall we say, mesh? I believe fringe works best in the accessories category, hence, the reason I’ve limited myself to fringe accessories. Target has really been killing it with their shoes so that’s why most of my selections are from Target. I wanted to incorporate a collection that would work well with the garments I included above and also work well with office + weekend wear. Of course, I had to include rain boots given the time of year, and I love puppies so that’s reason enough. The Freyrs sunnies are just spectacular. I recently purchase these and they are fab-u-lous. Note, I did find almost the exact same pair of glasses at Zero UV for nearly a 1/4 of the cost.

So there you have it, my spring favorites can now be yours as well. I want to hear from you! What are your favorite trends right now? Where are your favorite places to shop?

Up next, my Easter attire inspiration!

Thanks for peeking!

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Holiday Displays Are Still Leading Sales in a Digital Age

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After reading this article, I was pleased to learn that much holiday purchases are driven by eye-catching window displays. I for one, appreciate the art, the process, and the attention to detail to great in-store displays. I adore Anthropologies countless, remarkable displays, and always find myself venturing inside the store every time I pass. I can’t wait until I have the opportunity to plan for this beautiful, festive, holiday tradition! Please enjoy…

Originally published on Business of Fashion, titled In Digital Age, Holiday Windows Still Drive Sales. Written by Kati Chitrakorn

 

LONDON, United Kingdom — Holidays sales are critical to retailers. For retailers in the US, the world’s largest consumer market, 25 percent of annual sales happen during the holiday season, according to market research firm NPD Group. And since the 1870s, when Macy’s created one of New York’s first holiday window displays, these festive feats of visual merchandising have become not only a seasonal tradition, but powerful marketing devices.

“It’s a lengthy process filled with perfection and precision,” says Alex Wells Greco, who leads visual merchandising at Harrods, on the process of creating the London store’s holiday windows, which often feature elaborate sets and fanciful themes. Indeed, fashioning holiday window displays can be a year-long endeavour, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars and upwards, and often beginning before last year’s windows are taken down. But with the rise of the Internet — digital touchpoints now influence three out of every four luxury purchases, according a recent study by McKinsey — why do brands and retailers still invest so much time and money in window displays?

For one, festive windows still influence 24 percent of holiday purchases, according to NPD, while the best ones can become must-see destinations for tourists and local residents alike. “Our Christmas windows pull tourists from far and wide. They’re the first thing they see, so they’re hugely important for attracting business,” says Janet Wardley, Harvey Nichols’ head of visual display. Roe Palermo, divisional vice president of merchandise presentation at Lord & Taylor, says, “During the holiday season, over 500,000 people pass by our windows daily, so it’s important that they can tune out the chaos of the city, just for a few minutes.”

“There’s a lot of talk these days about ‘experience’ as key to positively differentiating brick-and-mortar shopping from online,” adds Linda Fargo,Bergdorf Goodman’s senior vice president, women’s fashion director and store presentation, who has styled the store’s windows for nearly 20 years. “Given the inherent abstraction of digital retail, there’s an increasing attraction to actual and physical experience. It’s rooted in memory and simple pleasures, like delight and surprise, especially important emotions during the festive season.”

The New York department store spared no expense to ensure the tableaux in its windows dazzled this year with the help of Swarovski, who provided over 7 million crystals for display. “Great holiday windows, at their best, drive much more than merely sales. They can create long-term affection for the store and give one a view into the heart of a brand,” continues Fargo, adding that this year’s windows took a full year and a team of 100 people to take from concept to completion. “This kind of bond-building simply isn’t possible on the screen.”

“[Windows] sell product, but they also tell a story,” says Faye McLeod, visual image director at Louis Vuitton. “For me, it’s like creating art. Every day, the blank sheet of paper that stares back at me is five walls and a pane of glass. It’s the perfect canvas to create something modern, youthful, elegant, luxurious or tongue-in-cheek. At Louis Vuitton, we think it provides an amazing opportunity to connect with people on the street — whether they are clients or not — and have a conversation,” continues McLeod. “No doubt, creating physical windows takes more resources and has less reach in some ways than a website. But good windows can make a powerful impact in the digital age.”

Indeed, the impact of holiday windows is often amplified online, when consumers take and share images of the displays on social platforms like Instagram or Facebook. “Windows may not seem to be a part of this digital age as it goes back to the earliest times of retailing in stores, but it actually does utilise digital in a strong way. Selfies and social sharing of the window visit are a big part of the communication of the brand at holiday. ‘Here we are at Macy’s’ or ‘Saks’ shots fill the pages on social media. [It’s] a great way to get in the brand on top of the mind game,” says Marshall Cohen, NPD’s chief industry analyst.

“In today’s retail environment, the line between online and offline is more blurred than ever,” adds Nadja Swarovski, member of the Swarovski executive board. “It’s important for brands to continue inspiring people in the real world, as well as providing engaging information and experiences online, so that consumers feel confident with their choices.”

Here are some of this year’s best festive window displays. Which windows do you like most this season? Let us know in the comments below.

Bergdorf Goodman

Bergdorf Goodman Christmas window 2015 | Photo: Ricky Zehavi for Bergdorf Goodman

In honour of Swarovski’s 120th anniversary, the New York department store teamed up with the fine jeweller to create five holiday windows crafted around the theme “Brilliant Holiday.” Featuring over 7 million Swarovski crystals, the displays include ‘The Crown Jewels,’ featuring crystallised suits of armour and ‘The Crystal Cavern,’ depicting a prismatic amethyst cave — all of which showcase custom clothing created by three of the store’s designers: Johnson Hartig of Libertine, Naeem Khan and CD Greene.

Barneys

Barneys Christmas window 2015 | Source: Barneys

This year Barney’s theme — ‘Chillin’ Out’ — included a group of Okamoto Studio’s artists sculpting winter animals from inside the Madison Avenue flagship’s windows, which passers-by can watch. “We really wanted to keep our tradition of integrating a performance element into the windows; we felt like it elevates the entire experience,” says Dennis Freedman, creative director of Barneys. There are two key displays: ‘Arctic Chase,’ which features a group of crystal penguins traversing an icy race track in miniature 3D printed Lexus cars, and ‘Winter Brilliance,’ made up of 700 pieces of hand-blown glass, by sculptor Dale Chihuly.

Selfridges

Selfridges Christmas window 2015 | Photo: Andrew Meredith for Selfridges

Selfridges’ astrological theme — ‘Journey to the Stars’ — sees the 12 windows of its London’s Oxford Street store depicting the different star signs and illuminated by over 400 metres of neo lights. Two scarlet red mannequin dressed in Alaia andDries Van Noten represent Scorpio, while the ‘Free as a Bird’ Sagittarius display features a set of iridescent, colour-changing feathers.

Harrods

Harrods Christmas windows 2015 | Source: Harrods

This year, the windows at Harrods have been designed to replicate theatre sets, with red velvet curtains, spotlights and festive décor, while the London department store’s second set of smaller windows, installed two feet above the floor, feature Peter Pumpernickel, the toy mouse that was the star of last year’s campaign. One display also includes a gigantic gingerbread house that took 33 hours of baking, 20 hours of hand-piped sugar detailing and stands at over 4 feet tall.

Bloomingdale’s

Bloomingdale's Christmas windows 2015 | Photo: Billy Farrell Agency

Bloomingdale’s has partnered with celebrity florist Jeff Leatham, who has worked with luxury brands like Tiffany and Alexander McQueen, to create a sensory holiday window experience. Instead of displaying merchandise, “our holiday windows take onlookers on an interactive journey to discover how sight, sound, touch, taste and smell shape the holiday experience,” explains Jack Hruska, Bloomingdale’s executive vice president of creative services. Displays include a pine-scented Christmas tree, and a collection of boiled red and white sweets, which are accompanied by a peppermint smell dispenser.

Harvey Nichols

Harvey Nichols Christmas windows 2015 | Source: Harvey Nichols

Harvey Nichols’ Studio 54-themed Christmas windows required one million glitter flakes, 300,000 sequins, 15,000 gift boxes, 620 mirror balls and 540 baubles to create. “We look to the catwalks for inspiration,” says Janet Wardley, Harvey Nichols’ head of visual display, of the decision to chose the iconic ‘70s nightclub as inspiration. “Following the shows, it was clear that the main trend for Autumn/Winter 2015 was Studio 54.” Alongside brands such as Christopher Kane, Lanvin, Alice & Olivia, Mary Katrantzou, Charlotte Olympia and Paul Andrew, the windows feature giant faces constructed from gift boxes with strings of fairy lights for hair.

Galeries Lafayette

Galleries Lafayette Christmas windows 2015 | Source: Galeries Lafayette

This year, Galeries Lafayette’s holiday windows tie-in to the newest film in the Star Wars franchise (premiering in December) and feature a robot family from the imaginary planet Scopi, about 2,450 light years away from Earth. The windows depict the journey of a small robot, Leon, and his friend, Lumi, who spy the light of a Christmas ornament through a telescope and go in search of it: “Two of our windows are interactive while several others have digital screens that are part of the set,” said a spokesperson for the Paris department store.

La Rinascente

La Rinascente Christmas windows 2015 | Source: La Rinascente

Titled ‘Let it shine, Let it shine, Let it shine. It’s Christmas again!’ La Rinascente follows its tradition of eschewing products for artistic projects. “We never display commercial items in our Christmas windows,” says Tiziana Cardini, fashion director of the Italian department store, which opted to display an artistic installation by Swiss artist John Armleder, featuring numerous metallic baubles placed in front of four large paintings, curated by Cloe Piccoli.

Macy’s

Macy's Christmas window 2015 | Photo: Diane Bondareff for Macy's

Ahead of the release of a new CGI Peanuts movie in 2016, Macy’s celebrates the 50th anniversary of iconic holiday special ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ with its windows. Designed by Macy’s national director of windows Roya Sullivan, the store’s six window displays feature key scenes from the 1965 classic, with large figures of the Charles Schulz gang, including Charlie, Lucy and pet beagle Snoopy.

Saks

Saks Fifth Avenue Christmas windows 2015 | Source: Saks Fifth Avenue

The New York department store’s ‘The Winter Palace’ spans the length of a block and features 225,000 crystal lights. The display consists of towering light icicles, crystal palace spires and snowy magnolia arches that represent the “six wintry wonders of the word,” says Mark Briggs, executive vice president, creative of Hudson’s Bay Company. They include a frozen Eiffel Tower and ‘the Great Brrrrrier Reef’.

Luxury Brands and The Lost Art of Storytelling

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Venerable Alber Elbaz, until last month the creative director of centennial luxury fashion house Lanvin, recently said in an interview with AnOther that “maybe we are no longer the industry of newness, because that was taken by technology, but we’re still an industry of a man and a woman, of a thread and a needle, and of fabric, and a dream.”

There are few industries that pride themselves with a dream, imagination, history and heritage like luxury. But why is the category so bad at telling its own stories?

One would think that, once digital media liberated storytelling from the confines of video and print, the luxury industry would rush to seduce customers with its rich tales. Archives would be opened, books would be dusted and dreams unleashed. Luxury brands would finally have the opportunity to weave the fabric of their fables in an interactive, immersive and compelling way, across all customer touchpoints. They would participate in a larger cultural conversation and provide their audiences with references, inspiration and lifestyle ammunition unmatched by any other industry.

This hasn’t happened. Instead of a brand spirit speaking the language of modern audience, we got content strategy. Instead of a brand point of view expressed through enduring aesthetics, we got temporary campaigns shot by the latest photographer du jour. Instead of being inspired to tell their own stories, we got influencer marketing programmes.

Content strategy is not your brand story. It cannot replace the ethos and the defining point of view of your brand. Luxury brands were by default created by founders with vision, spirit and passion that attracted their first audiences and made them fall in love. Early luxury houses were arbiters of taste that worked with taste-savvy connoisseurs of culture who came to ateliers for the lush vibe and the stories as much as they did for the goods.

Today’s luxury stories pale in comparison to their own past. Often squeezed under the “brand world” links on company websites, given a nod in the company’s logo, haphazardly translated into product imagery on brands’ social channels or not acknowledged at all in retail boutiques, they feel as irrelevant as the last year’s It girl.

There are exceptions. Saint Laurent’s Hedi Slimane mastered the art of cultural reference, perfectly echoing Yves’ partner Pierre Berge’s recent observation in the New York Times that “fashion is so very fragile, you see. Really, what it is is a moment between the past and future, and it has to encapsulate the present.” Olivier Rousteing of Balmain entered an Instagram dialogue – a direct, special relationship with his audience – by giving it both daily inspiration and something to talk about. Christopher Bailey rooted Burberry’s Britishnessinto this country’s vibrant indie music scene and married it with his mastery of digital culture.

The list is short. Today, greater cultural influence comes from companies who do not belong to traditional luxury. Unburdened with the way that the business is done, they look at storytelling with the fresh eyes of the modern luxury consumer.

Skincare company Aesop roots its brand story in the philosophy of balanced life. “We value all human endeavours undertaken with intellectual rigour, vision and a nod to the whimsical,” is Aesop’s philosophy, and its stores, website and bi-monthly literary gesture The Fabulist all live and breathe it. “We advocate the use of our formulations as part of a balanced life that includes healthy diet, sensible exercise, a moderate intake of red wine, and a regular dose of stimulating literature.” Aesop’s products are by-products of a wonderfully human and joyful story that is easy to buy into.

Digital pure-player Farfetch thinks of itself as the world’s largest luxury fashion marketplace – for products and cultural ideas alike. Just like any vibrant shopping bazaar, Farfetch’s brand rests on cultural diversity, serendipity and surprise. The local tales coming from its community of boutiques are as important as the products by the latest undiscovered designer.

Modern brands succeed because, just like the luxury houses of old, they build their business on the cultural language and direct relationship with their customer. They use their ethos and relevant stories attuned to the zeitgeist to fight off digital commodification.

To successfully compete with these newcomers, luxury brands need to summon the spirit and passion of their founders and turn them into modern culture. Just like old luxury connoisseurs, modern taste-aware audiences consume a strong point of view, convincing beliefs and compelling values. If they fall in love with a luxury item in the process, all the better.

Black Friday and the Rising Cost of Low Prices

Originally posted in The Business of Fashion, titled, Does Anyone Expect to Pay Full Price Anymore? Article written by Helena Pike.

LONDON, United Kingdom — You’re in the middle of a Black Friday sale and you just snagged a bargain. Your heartbeat quickens; your awareness is heightened.

Although you can’t see it, your brain has begun releasing neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine, which are triggering an adrenalin-like rush, resulting in an overwhelming buzz of euphoria.

Fashion consumers are discount shopping more than ever — and while it was retailers that first encouraged them, with retail margins and full-price sales now suffering, those businesses may have shot themselves in the foot.

In the US in particular, the run up to this year’s holiday season has not been happy. Many major department stores have seen their shares plummet, after announcing consistently disappointing sales. Since the beginning of 2015, Nordstrom’s shares have fallen 33 percent this year, while Macy’s shares crashed 14 percent in the third quarter alone, after it announced a 5.2 percent decline in sales. Shoppers, it would seem, are holding out for Black Friday, the day following Thanksgiving, when retailers traditionally offer large discounts.

Last year, US sales on Black Friday topped $50 billion, a 9.5 percent increase in online sales compared to 2013. In the UK, where Black Friday has only recently begun to gain traction, online sales hit £810 million ($1.2 billion) last year, according to IMRG, the UK industry association for online retailers.

“Does anyone really expect to pay full price for anything anymore?” asks Andy Mulcahy, editor of IMRG.

Heavy discounting: the dangers

Heavy discounting can be a downward spiral for retailers. By continually lowering prices, retailers risk falling down a rabbit hole, as consumers become conditioned to only shop during the sales.

“Consumers get trained to expect really significant reductions,” explains Kit Yarrow, consumer psychologist and professor of psychology at Golden Gate University. Nowadays, “a lot of consumers put off purchases like winter coats or electronics until this time of the year, because they feel like they’re going to get a better deal.”

“It is a dangerous tactic,” agrees James Lovell, European retail commerce solutions executive at consultancy IBM. “If I’m going to start to condition my customers to only shop on a four-day window in the run up to Christmas, because it’s discounted, then I run the risk of eroding margins at what should be the most profitable time of the year.”

Indeed, this was exactly what happened to retailers in the UK last year, where Black Friday launched for the first time, triggering a sales drop in the weeks preceding it, a period in which retailers traditionally expect the uptick of the Christmas shopping period to begin. When retailers started communicating to consumers that Black Friday discounts were on the way, “What they did was say to people, ‘Don’t shop with us now, shop with us on Black Friday,’” says Mulcahy. “Inadvertently, they stopped sales.”

Panicked, many actually ended up offering even greater discounts, further diminishing their margins. “People sold quite a lot of stock, but they weren’t getting the kind of mark-up that they would have liked,” explains Mulcahy.

A similar picture is emerging this year. Full-price trading for the Autumn/Winter period has been “drastically shortened,” as customers defer purchases and sales start earlier, says Roberta Benteler, founder and managing director of London-based luxury etailer Avenue 32. “The fourth quarter is virtually unrecognisable from the same trading period five years ago,” she says.

The origins of Black Friday

Before the recession, sales were generally biannual events, a way for retailers to clear stock before the new season arrived. Stores supplemented this strategy with additional promotions, but it was only after 2007 that Black Friday began in earnest.

“It is really a hangover from the recession,” explains Philip Benton, senior retail analyst at Euromonitor, who says that consumers suddenly became more prudent with their purchases. “The whole global meltdown actually made them think again about how they spend,” agrees Tsivrikos.

“A lot of retailers that are around today experienced a huge scare during the recession,” says Yarrow. “They were really fighting to stay alive.” In an effort to increase footfall and shift excess inventory, they slashed prices — and have been doing so ever since.”

The rise of the savvier shopper

This post-recession discounting also helped give rise to a savvier shopper. “We’ve witnessed a new wave, almost a new breed of consumers,” says Tsivrikos. “They want to be good with money. They want to actually know how selling works.”

This change in consumer mind-set was further compounded by the emergence of online shopping, as e-retailers like Amazon not only gave customers access to discounts all year round, but also enabled them to  shop around for better deals. “We started shopping online, driven by discounts,” says Martin Coedo Mestre, commerce strategy leader at IBM. As a result, the balance of power between company and consumer began to shift. Now, “people are in command,” Mulcahy says.

There was also a growing off-price retail sector — made up of outlet stores, discount retailers and companies dedicated to selling old or surplus stock at discount — to compete with. In the US, sales of off-price footwear and apparel have increased 40 percent since 2009, according to estimates by RBC Capital Markets. In an increasingly crowded, increasingly discounted market, retailers wanting to compete for custom had to offer more for less. “Five years ago, luxury companies would not admit that they sold online or in discounted, flash-sale stores. Now, they do it pretty openly,” says IBM’s Coedo Mestre.

Psychology of sales shopping

So what is the allure of going on sale? Retailers are well aware that shopping in sales feels good — and not just because you’re saving money. David Lewis, a neuropsychologist and the chairman of Mindlab, a neuroscience and communications insight firm, says that, for some shoppers, getting a good deal can feel like “a kind of buzz on steroids.” Sales seize on what Lewis describes as “fun fear” — the fear that you might miss out on a bargain — followed by a “pleasurable swell of excitement” at the moment of purchase.

Shoppers often unconsciously approach sales from “an evolutionary perspective,” says Dimitrios Tsivrikos, consumer and business psychologist at University College London. “They’re becoming hunters and gatherers again… fighting for resources, wandering around taking everything off the shelves.” To tap this fear of missing out, retailers heavily promote Black Friday as a “one-off” opportunity to get better-than-ever discounts. But are the risks of discounting really worth it?

Black Friday: golden opportunity or vicious cycle?

This year, a few retailers have turned their backs on Black Friday. In the US, outdoor clothing chain REI will keep its doors shut and stop processing online orders, but still pay its staff. President and chief executive Jerry Stritzke told press that he wanted to encourage REI’s workers to “be outside,” a decision he said was more authentic to the brand. Walmart-owned British supermarket Asda, where, last year, fights broke out amongst customers in some stores over discounted merchandise, also announced it was pulling out. (Macy’s and Kohl’s, conversely, will open for Black Friday shopping at 6pm on Thursday.)

Other brands have found ways to create buzz around Black Friday, without actually discounting. “Obviously, when there’s a lot of traffic in stores, it’s important that our brands capitalise on that opportunity,” says Chris Good, president of the Estée Lauder Companies UK & Ireland. Brands owned by the company — such as Jo Malone, Bobbi Brown and Crème de la Mer — use incentives like personalised engraving and illustration on packaging, limited edition products and gifts with purchase, to create a sense of value. “We are offering the consumer something that’s very differentiated to the normal experience you would have,” says Good.

However, many find themselves in a catch-22. “Sales are so much more common, even throughout the year, that people are having to compete,” says Euromonitor’s Benton, who explains that retailers are worried “about where the consumer is going to spend their money, because there’s much more competition and choice.”

Indeed, now that customers have learned to expect large discounts on Black Friday, it is very difficult for stores to break the cycle of sales. Retailers “can try and rationalise in terms of discounts — to try and bring them down a bit,” says IMRG’s Mulcahy. However, “If your lead competitor says, ‘We’re going to do 30 percent off and were going to do it on everything,’ then it puts a lot of pressure on you to do it yourself.”

These Fabulous Boutiques are Delivering Black Friday Deals

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Oh yes, the holidays are here. For many of you, the jingle bells may be less jolly and more maddening, but for me the holidays are a time for joy; the warm fuzzies, gathering with family, reuniting, being thankful, reflective, and enjoyably, generous…which, generally, turns into me getting a little crazy with the credit card on Christmas gift purchases (and perhaps a little indulgence for myself).

And I’m just speculating, but I bet some of you are wondering why I’m talking about the holidays already, when Thanksgiving hasn’t even occurred. Well to all the Grinch’s and all the Scrouge’s, Thanksgiving is all but two days away, and the day after marks open season for madness of holiday shopping.

Closeup on christmas shopping bags in hand of smiling young woman

I’ve been reading a book that has given me a lot of perspective on the clothes I wear, the places I shop, and my purchase behavior. This has also given me much thought into the carnivorous culture that is Black Friday; thrashing for the best deals, with little question of how great of a deal we’re actually getting (or lack thereof). Big-box retailers draw you in with their alluring, sometimes ambiguous, deep promotions. As a pursuer of entrepreneurship, I’m obviously a proponent of supporting small business, but as a consumer, learning what I have, my support has only become greater.

I’m not trying to damn Black Friday or consumerism, instead I’m trying to shift the focus from the fast fashion frenzy and big box retailer’s outrageous super sales*, back to our own communities, neighbors, and friends.

*Sale on limited product, while supplies last, for the first 2000 customers only, read terms of agreement, only available in Canada, may be life-threatening.

So if you want to experience the reward of supporting local businesses, or supporting your community economically; if you want to find something for yourself, something that will turn eyes, something that stands out and instills confidence; if you want to find a totally unique gift, or pretty much win at Secret Santa; if you want to be recognized as an individual, respected, and appreciated for your support, you can find it here:

Oh, and yes, these charming boutiques also have super sweet Black Friday deals too 😉

 

:Ivy Hill:

All things accessories, clothing, and gifts! Located in Ladue. This Black Friday, you can anticipate 20% off everything in store, I’ll say that one more time; 20% off EVERYTHING in the entire store! If you don’t believe me, see for yourself.

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Check out more stuff from Ivy Hill‘s insta!

 

:Leopard:

Fabulous, affordable, fashion! Located in Webster Groves (WG native, whoop!) and St. Charles. Leopard will open @8am Friday morning in both locations, with these awesome doorbuster specials!

Select sweaters $29.99

Select dresses $29.99

Select tops $19.99

Good Works Bracelets for $14.99 (regularly $18-26)

On Small Business Saturday, you can expect 10% off everything in store, PLUS, a free gift with purchase!! Both locations will open @10am Saturday morning.

Check out more stuff from Leopard‘s insta!

:Living Collective:

A women’s lifestyle shop of carefully curated clothing and accessories! Located in the Central West End. On Black Friday you can expect 15% of all orders (code word: PUMPKINPIE), PLUS free shipping on all orders Friday-Monday!

Check out more stuff from Living Collective‘s insta!

I’m not going to tell you to stop shopping at the big box stores, but I will leave you with this; you cannot deny these delicious deals, nor the self-reward for your support. This year, give the gift of supporting small business!