The women behind Hirshleifers walk us through their experience.
Fashion week in 2021 serves different purposes for different people, depending on where you fall in the industry. As a buyer, you are evaluating each collection with a critical eye, asking yourself not only What do I like? but also What will my clients like? In tandem with attending shows, they also pay a visit to showrooms for market appointments where they will place their buys for the upcoming season. Lori Hirshleifer and March Hirshleifer Penn, of the family-owned department store Hirshleifers, are walking us through their spring '22 New York Fashion Week experience, detailing what goes through their heads throughout the very hectic yet creative period.
What does your job entail?
Lori Hirshleifer: "I'm part of the fourth generation here at Hirshleifers, and I am one of the owners along with my two sisters and husband. I'm the head women's buyer as well as all things creative in the store."
Marci Hirshleifer Penn: "I'm part of the fifth generation with my two cousins and my brother. I head the personal shopping division and also do the women's buying with Lori."
How do you approach fashion week? What role does it play in your career?
LH: "Fashion week is the most exciting time of the year for retailers. We get to see what's trending each season and how we can work that into our store buy. I don't go to many shows anymore, but the market appointments are so fun and exciting. We have really great relationships with all of our vendors, so it's always amazing to see the teams and catch up as well as write our orders for the store."
MHP: "It's super important for me, as it's a huge excitement for my clients. They love to see what's coming into the store straight off the runway and what they can pre-order, et cetera. I have a great team, and we work together to make sure we know what's trending and what each of our clients will like. It's so important for me going into market appointments to know what my clients are after and work with them in the appointments."
When do you start to prepare?
LH: "We start to prepare a week or so before fashion week, going through selling reports and trend reports and all that exciting stuff…"
MHP: "I think, for my team and I, we start to prepare a few weeks before. We really home in on what our clients are looking for, what we have in the store currently, and what we need based on trend reports and client requests. Like I mentioned above, knowing what my clients are looking for and what works for them is super important for me going into appointments."
Walk us through your process for a show or appointment. What is going through your head?
LH: "What will work for our client? Realistically, we have to really work out what is just commercially amazing and what will actually sell in our store. Thankfully, that comes pretty seamlessly for us. We just really focus on what we'd want to wear, and that's never really steered us in the wrong direction!"
Is there anything like a typical day for you during fashion week? If so, what's it like?
MHP: "Well, when we were traveling, it was pretty consistent. We'd have a big breakfast around 7:00 AM and go over our schedule/work on orders, then head to appointments until we had lunch. We always made a point of having time for lunch at one of our favorite restaurants. Then we'd go back to appointments until dinner time around 8:00 or 9:00 PM. Now, because most of our appointments are virtual, we work appointments into our regular workdays between client appointments and remerchandising/meetings. No day is the same!"
What are your essentials?
LH: "Phone charger, pencils, snacks, and water!"
MHP: "I'd say the same, but also chapstick and chewing gum are a must, as well."
Photos: Courtesy of Lori Hirshleifer and March Hirshleifer Penn
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