Niki Low is the owner of Match Clothing, which has shops in Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth in Suffolk, and is a member of the Fashion Association of Britain (FAB).
Understanding celebrity style gives us an insight into what inspires and motivates our customer. There’s no denying the power of celebrity in fashion retail, especially in our corner of the market. It’s something we’ve discovered over time and we’re mindful of it in our marketing.
In the past few weeks we’ve enjoyed the effects of a chance news piece on the Express online, which featured our Closet drape-detail ribbon dress as a ‘budget alternative’ to the Roksanda Ilincic dress worn by Kate Middleton on the royals’ tour of Australia and New Zealand.
Naturally, the following day the dress, which retails for £49.99, was in the windows of both of our shops and we followed up with posts on Facebook and Twitter to maintain the momentum. Not only was there a surge of activity on the website and in our stores, but many of the customers whose interest was initially drawn by the news story then bought other items, so we feel we met their needs on a broader basis.
Understanding our customers’ needs is something we consider pivotal to the relationships we develop with them. That sort of reaction to a celebrity-associated style has given us an insight into what motivates our customer.
In the past few weeks, playsuits and jumpsuits have been selling like mad and celebrity has played its part. Our Lavish Alice playsuit was featured on The Only Way Is Essex and mentioned in a style blog by the former Made In Chelsea personality Millie Mackintosh. As a result, we sold out of that style within days. We try to capture a trend the first time around, since we inevitably find that fast-fashion retailers such as New Look and Zara will have it copied within weeks and, at that point, our customers would no longer have something unique.
Obviously there is no comparison in cut, fit or quality when you hold these garments side by side, but there is no sense in us selling an item that is similar to a style carried in River Island.
I consider it my duty to keep an eye on what overseas manufacturers are producing for the big chains, to ensure that what we buy will always be different.