Christine Gerleit, fine apparel manager at Neiman Marcus Westchester, is discussing the store’s revamped designer floor with WAG when one of her sales associates politely interrupts with a question from a customer, which Gerleit promptly attends to.
It’s an example in action of what could be the store’s motto: The customer always comes first. And the customer is the reason for the May/June refreshment of the third floor, which will feature a stable of sophisticated designers new to the store, from the classic — Valentino, Lanvin and Roland Mouret — to the edgy and modern — Dries Van Noten and Los Angeles-based Co.
“The (fine apparel) team here is very dynamic when it comes to finding out what the customer needs,” says Lu Gutierrez, assistant fine apparel manager.
“Christine and Julie (Gaynor, NMW vice president and general manager) always do a wonderful job of listening to our clients,” says Paula Davitch, DSA (dedicated sales associate) for Michael Kors at the store.
Over coffee at Mariposa, Neiman Marcus Westchester’s restaurant, the designer-floor team members discuss what their customers like and are like.
“They’re always looking for occasion dresses,” Gerleit says of the store’s clients, many of whom have been in the midst of the Grammy-Oscar-Tony awards season. “It’s a constant,” Davitch agrees, adding that the dresses have to be unusual. “(The customers) don’t want to see themselves coming and going.”
While the NM client is savvy, the team says, the Westchester customer is a breed apart — sophisticated, New York-centric (lots of black) and unafraid of risks. She understands that the elements of an ensemble no longer have to be matchy-matchy. The Neiman Marcus Westchester client knows exactly what she wants, although occasionally there is someone who may need a little guidance. Either way, “You have to know each brand,” says Te Rozhaja, DSA for The Row.
Thanks to new brands, new sales associates and new tech tools, the designer-floor team is always prepared to meet that challenge, Gerleit says:
“In the last three years, we’ve worked hard with our merchandising team to bring in new designers — Alexander McQueen, The Row, Cushnie et Ochs, Hervé Legér and Lela Rose. To do that is not easy, because of distribution issues. (The designers) have to make sure you’re successful. You have to have the right clothes. You have to have the right sellers. In the last few years, tech has boomed. We don’t want (the clients) shopping online.”
Instead, she wants you to let the designer-floor sales associates find what you’re looking for via their store-provided iPhones.
“We can watch a show on the runway, snap a picture of something for a customer and send it off to the buying office,” Davitch says.
Gone are the days when you left customers to fend for themselves amid racks of clothes. And that is fine with the designer floor team.
“This is our passion,” Davitch adds, “and if it’s your passion, what more can you ask than to do what you love?”
For more, visit http://www.neimanmarcus.com/stores/store.jsp?storeId=14/WC.