Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Why Are Fashion Designers Afraid Of Their Own Salespeople.

Why is every salesperson in Jil Sander, Gucci, Prada, Fendi, and Louis Vuitton dressed almost exactly alike? Black suit, white shirt, black or somber tie.

While I was shopping in these stores on Fifth Avenue today, I could not tell the difference between the salespeople and the security guards.

When you consider that these designer brands represent the heights of fashion self-expression, why don’t they let their sales staff join in on the fun ?

I base my choice of which salesperson’s I work with on their personal style (which is difficult to say the least when they are all dress in a uniform). David Anicich from Borrelli is a perfect example, on first seeing him I immediately knew he could help make me look better.

If you ask management, they would say the “uniform” allows the salespeople to wear the clothes without spending a ton of money on designer clothing.

Nice try.

Most of the salespeople work because they love the clothes.
Basically management is afraid their own salespeople just don’t get it.

Granted ,in alot of cases they are right; it is very tough to find great salespeople with equally great personal style to work retail, but some stores have learned how to successfully exploit their staff as walking, talking mannequins and they are reaping the rewards.

Who gets it?

Ralph Lauren

Abercrombie & Fitch

Bergdorf Goodman

Not only do these companies have great ads and store displays, but by dressing the staff in a variety of the clothes, customers can better imagine how real people might look in the clothes. Not that the hotties at Abercrombie are real people but you get the idea.

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13 comments

  1. Tilda

    November 23, 2005 at 1:50 am

    You are absolutely right, the sales people at storees look like clones of each other!!

  2. Anonymous

    November 29, 2005 at 11:11 am

    I was very pleasantly surprised at the unique style of dress of the salespeople at the Rhinelander Mansion. That said, I didn’t necessarily agree with the fashion advice given by them — for example, telling a 40-something guy that the navy blue chalkstripe suit was “versatile” because it could be “broken up” into separates.

  3. The Sartorialist

    November 29, 2005 at 5:56 pm

    good help is hard to find

  4. Anonymous

    December 3, 2005 at 10:06 pm

    I think that the purpose of the uniforms at high-end stores is to create a sort of divide between the customers and staff. It’s highly redolent of a master-servant relationship, and I’m sure not a few of the customers still have household staff.

    In essence, the employees are chosen not for sartorial style, but deference and salesmanship.

  5. Anonymous

    December 7, 2006 at 5:25 pm

    I agree with you the salespaople look like mannequins, it’s easy for the formula to work for Ralph and abercrombie they bascally offer the same look that one we americans love.. especailly for men, (it so safe)as for fendi prada, gucci, you have to own these looks when you wear them… anybody can put on ralph and abercrombie but not every one can wear GUCCI .hahaha

  6. Brent

    January 4, 2007 at 9:54 am

    I find it helpful to have the sales staff in a uniform, so that you don’t mistakenly approach another customer to ask for something.

    And of course it’s redolent of a master-servant relationship; they’re being paid to serve you.

  7. biglakestyle

    February 17, 2008 at 7:01 am

    Sart, speaking from way too many years of experience, how you dress your staff dramatically influences how the staff performs. You are very correct about the value of walking manequins but the primary problem is once you cross the line into “performer” from providing service, several things happen. In the misdemeanor department, inattention rules, “can’t help you; too busy modeling” to the felony; lots of interaction with people who have come to “play” with the clothing but little in the way of solid sales. One very interesting tool; take a look at what % of transactions then get returned by salesperson; tells ya a lot.

  8. cate

    March 9, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    free people is another store that insists their employees wear FP clothes.

  9. Anonymous

    May 8, 2009 at 1:20 am

    working in vegas i would have to disagree. The store i worked at and a few around gave a lot of leway on how you can dress, walk into marc jacobs, ted baker, or cavalli. These stores are not the high end stores but you can find people that are doing their own style.

  10. wyy

    August 5, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    I use to work at Abercrombie, I never wanted to wear the clothes from the store, as I have my own tastes in clothing/accesories. I was forced to wear their clothes, and never getting to wear black! sandals all year round should be out-lawed! I ended up using all my paychecks buying more clothes for the following month, because we weren't allowed to wear clothes out of season (ie. coat during spring is a big no-no). I basically worked there for free, paycheck after paycheck going back to the store I worked for.

    If you want advice from a stylist for free go to a nice vintage shop like shotwell or wasteland. The consistently mix old with modern pieces and employees are allowed to dress however they want!(of course they dress well! and offer advice as to garment planning)
    shotwell-geary st, san francisco
    wasteland-ashbury,san francisco

  11. miki p./

    February 8, 2010 at 1:39 am

    dressing up and choice of clothes represent a personality, on which a true salesperson-customer relationship is based. by forcing your stuff to be identical you destroy each one's personality and ability to built up relationship with different customers.

    being a fashion marketer in my very beginning I want to research on an experiment. like in the cinema and in life sometimes, we have the good, the bad, the fabulous persona but quite ugly, the amazingly beautiful but a bit naive, the stylish woman who waits 5 kilograms more. these characteristics might be found to customers as well as to salespeople.

    if we match both parties we have greater sales based on relationships!!! because when i enter the prada boutique and every girl there is skinny and beautiful like a boticcelli painting i get demotivated to shop and think : first diet, then shopping. but if i had someone to relate to….i would shop easier, more comfortable, like going shopping with friends!

  12. Anonymous

    February 24, 2010 at 5:43 am

    Hi.

    I'm a sales assistant/ store manager and i do not wear a uniform. I like to think that i have a sure sense of style and self – people are always asking me if what i have on is in the store – and i would love to own most of the clothes in the store. Unfortunately i cannot afford them. Even at cost price. I wholeheartedly believe that if i was able to wear the clothes i sell day in and out my boss would definitely reap the benefits. Unfortunately it just doesn't work that way. boo.

  13. Amber

    October 11, 2010 at 3:22 am

    I was forced to wear their clothes, and never getting to wear black! sandals all year round should be out-lawed! I ended up using all my paychecks buying more clothes for the following month, because we weren't allowed to wear clothes out of season (ie. coat during spring is a big no-no). I basically worked there for free, paycheck after paycheck going back to the store I worked for.

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