March 31, 2010

Why I love retail

In a conversation today, I was asked why I loved retail, and although I've loved retail since childhood, I somehow ended up groping blindly for the right words. Later, at home, it hit me:

As a designer, I've always been interested in how the eventual owner connects to a garment. A garment is just a lifeless object until it's put on; it needs a wearer to give it life, movement, dimensionality. Who is that person? How does it look on her? How will she style it, and change it, and make it her own?

It's easy to call fashion shallow, but the fact is, we all wear clothes, and they're an integral part of how we express ourselves to the world around us: the popularity of street style blogs amply illustrates people's fascination with how others display their individuality through clothes.

Clothes affect how we experience the world, too: a too-short hem or a too-tight waistband can ruin anyone's day, while a lush fabric, a flattering silhouette, or an unexpected detail can make us feel like the proverbial million dollars.

From behind a drawing board or a sewing machine, though, it's hard to see what happens after a garment is designed and manufactured; for most designers, it's a rare joy to see one's clothes being worn outside in the real world. But inside a shop, you can experience that joy time after time, day after day: real people taking clothes off the hanger and bringing them to life.

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