Monday, September 24, 2012

Reflections: The Emperor Has No Clothes

When it comes to clothes shopping I'm a total exception. I hate going to the mall. I avoid the mall at all costs. Unflattering lighting. Teeming manhandling masses. I'll do my clothes shopping in the comfort of my own home thank you very much. So how do I find new clothes?

Almost all of the clothes I buy have been discovered online. (I try to avoid malls -- crowds specifically -- as much as possible.) Many started with a photo on Facebook or Twitter. Some from Google Adwords. A couple from email and traditional direct mail. Where do your clothing purchases start?
Recently I've bought clothes from ModCloth, Target, Macy's, Nordstrom, Old Navy, Madewell, Free People, and Tulle -- not counting my vintage finds. I also tried to buy clothes from Ann Taylor.
I'll start with my Ann Taylor experience. First, let me say you don't want to interact with this brand solely by catalog. If you're relying on the catalog or direct mailers to alert you to new collections, you're going to end up disappointed. I received their latest catalog Ann. on the second day in the range of five it was recommended to be delivered by post. I fell in love with an outfit Kate Hudson was wearing. (Actually I fell in love with two outfits she was wearing.) I immediately went online to buy the outfits. None of the clothes were available; all were sold out. I'm all for scarcity to keep profit margins, but come on, it's not like Jason Wu is designing for Ann Taylor. To avoid future disappointment (fingers and toes crossed) I'm now following them on Tumblr and receiving email.
My Target purchase -- a dress from Jason Wu's collection for Target -- started with Twitter and a link to an ad I watched on YouTube. (I loved that ad. I can't count how many times I viewed it.) I set a timer for when his collection went on sale and snagged the dress.
My Free People purchases began in Facebook (I can't remember how I learned of their brand in the first place, maybe a blog or someone I follow on Facebook.) They regularly share photos of real people wearing their clothes as well as their sales associates styling the latest collections with their personal clothes. I saw a purple Henley in my feed, showed my husband my phone, and then bought it. Since that purchase I've been a little obsessed with Free People -- five items of clothing in three months.
My purchases at ModCloth, Tulle, and Madewell all started online with blogs. I discovered ModCloth through a Google Adwords ad on my blog and Tulle through a Google Adwords ad in the RSS feed of a blog I follow. My discovery of Madewell came while I was developing a blog post. I had wondered if anyone still made Keds. Madewell had the cutest pair of polka dot Keds. My first purchases from Madewell came when I stumbled across their storefront at the mall. I remembered the brand and wondered what else they had. I bought my entire Fourth of July weekend wardrobe from Madewell.
My Macy's purchases always start with an email. Not the emails announcing sales. The emails with pictures of clothes that match my retro look. (I've been receiving their emails since cubes and I registered there for our wedding.) My Kate Spade purchases started with a retweet of their sample sale. I snagged a diaper bag at 75% off. With that purchase, I signed up for their newsletter. My next two purchases were spurred by an email.

Nordstrom for me is a special case. We didn't always have a good relationship. In fact, my first attempt to buy clothes at a Nordstrom was thwarted by a snotty sales person. I don't receive emails from them. I didn't know they had a catalog until I received one addressed to the former resident of our flat. I actively search them out. When I absolutely need an outfit, I know I can count on Nordstrom. They outfitted my bridesmaids. They helped my mom find a dress for my wedding. Two Christmases ago I realized I didn't have anything appropriate to wear to my husband's holiday party. Nordstrom to the rescue. I printed out dresses from their online store and handed them to an associate along with my sizes. She came back to the dressing room with six complete outfits. In less than half an hour I walked out with a dress that looked great -- didn't need any alterations -- stockings, and shoes.
How do you buy clothes? Solely in store? Online only? A mix of online and in store?
Ciao Bella!
NOTE: This is the second in a series of three posts on buying behavior. The first post on Magazines appeared on this blog last month. Next month, the series will close with furniture.
Credits: All images taken by Eden Hensley Silverstein for The Road to the Good Life.