We recently caught up with Emblem Showroom CEO Eveline Morel during our Fashion Week walk-through at The New Mart. One of Eveline's claims to fame is dressing Beyoncé! Eveline gave us some useful insights into the "business of fashion." Enjoy!
Eveline Morel, CEO of Emblem Showroom
707 Emblem Showroom 310.420.0125 F/424.281.6883 www.emblemshowroom.com firstname.lastname@example.org
The New Mart: How has market been so far?
Eveline Morel: Somewhat slow. But there may be a good reason for that. I think this is due to the retailers who are buying immediates are still hurting from last month because February was so rainy. When it rains, nobody walks around. When you’re a boutique, you’re not in a mall so you’re not covered from the rain. I’ll probably see one or two people in a store. It rained so much last month, I don’t think a lot of retailers had a lot of sales. It was also not warm enough and a lot of them were pushing Spring also. If you see sales are slow, you may have been committed to certain levels, and think “how am I going to sell this?” This can be very stressful because you’re buying something for Fall and sales were slow and you’re wondering how you’re going to make the cash flow. And that’s always a bit of a trick, I think a lot of times retailers are buying whatever it is that they have to.
The New Mart: Do many of your lines do immediates because of that?
Eveline Morel: Yes, many of my lines do immediates. I’ve pretty much told all the designers that they need to have at least some goods in stock because it’s easier for opening accounts.
The New Mart: What’s the good line to draw? From a retailer point of view, it’s the risk, you don’t want to buy a lot and then have a lot of excess inventory. From the designer point of view, they don’t buy enough. You don’t merchandize the collection to sell that brand. So what’s the golden number for retailers to try something out?
Eveline Morel: I would say at least three styles. Frankly, you’re better off having less styles and just having them try it. Because when you’re opening an account, it’s easier to turn around and sell them something if it’s done well than if it hasn’t done well. If they’ve loaded up and it hasn’t sold then there’s a lower likelihood they’ll be buying from you again. I’m seeing situations where they want you to take unsold goods back.
The New Mart: What about chargebacks?
Eveline Morel: You get chargebacks, for example, when you ship the wrong sizes, i.e. the order isn’t correct. They’ll charge you back anywhere from $1-2+ per unit. So basically when their invoices comes due, the chargeback is deducted from what’s due. Sometimes the designers are not careful, the wrong goods are sent. Plus, all damaged goods are sent back. On top of that, sometimes you get a charge back if the packing bags aren’t the right size. This is because they reuse the bags because they’re not going to be repacking everything when they’re shipping or the way they’re stored.
I remember when we were a boutique and there was a brand new designer who got an order from Nordstrom in 2006-2007 (the good old days), he had trouble after only two seasons because he got so many charge backs which meant he didn’t make any money. He didn’t have the right people. When you’re dealing with large orders, you need to quality check everything. It was too bad because he had the coolest line and he could have been successful.
The New Mart: How do you see the economy?
Eveline Morel: The economy is doing better, but I think the consumer patterns are changing. It would be helpful if you provided showrooms with a list of buyers, do you have that?
The New Mart: YES! We have a list of over 6,200 names on it and we track their patterns so you can see whether it’s a buyer that comes once a year, every market, twice a year, so you can see their trends. This way we can tell how many are new accounts and how many are returning to us. We found there is a definite increase in new accounts. Sometimes we’ll find we get an even balance of new vs. returning. We’re trying to determine whether this because of new e-commerce stores or app stores coming online, or other kinds of buyers coming into the business, or bloggers that got popular who are now opening a store. There could be a lot of opportunity for new business.
Any line that doesn’t have tracking means they may be out of business, but we retain it on the list for a period.
Eveline Morel: We do a lot of boutique target research, looking at competing lines. It’s hard to know when some people make it to LA. Some retailers don’t do LA. We started tracking what stores carry what lines at what price points, which helps up determine who to sell this line to.
Producer/Interviewer: Ashleigh Kaspszak