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It’s important for brands and retailers to stay agile these days, but good ideas have been in remarkable short supply. To that end, we’ve reached out to some of the brighter minds in the business for an impromptu thinktank. If you’ve got any ideas of your own, feel free to let us know.

Not all great minds are bloggers, so the latest in our ongoing series comes from the retail side of the equation.

Portland’s Winn Perry is one of the rare independent boutiques that manages to steer the mainstream from outside of New York or Los Angeles, and establishing a style stronghold in a small city takes a whole lot more than just a good eye for clothes. So naturally, proprieter Jordan Sayler has a few interesting things to say about keeping afloat in troubled times.

Here’s Mr. Sayler’s take on the future of style:

If the luxury market is to thrive in the future, I think it has to do a few things. First, stick to the idea of quality and value in every aspect of its operations. That means offering great products and treating every customer that walks through their door with equal respect and service. It’s the customer that makes or breaks you and if they are not happy, they will not return and that company will not be in business much longer.

Designers and manufacturers must continue to offer the customer something worth spending their hard earned money on. That means focusing on top notch design, materials, and construction, because ultimately, that is what sets the luxury market apart. That is the main reason “heritage” companies have continued to be successful and why companies like Alden, Pendleton, and Quoddy have seen such a revival.

Second, the luxury market can’t be afraid to take chances. Another reason for the recent revival these companies have seen is that they have been open to new ideas, while maintaining the aspects that made them unique in the first place. If there is another thing that needs to set the luxury market apart, it has to be the idea of offering something unique.

Last, the customer has to be educated on the value of the product and why the initial price should not be the only deciding factor of a purchase. The old idea of buy less, get more.

There’s a lot to agree with here, but we’d single out the focus on service. Just as glossy magazines have to part with the culture of expense accounts and private drivers, retail shops will have to come back down to earth in the way they think of customer service.

Now that we think of it, that may be why we like old-world tailoring so much: They never shifted focus away from helping whoever walked in the door.

—R.B.

CONTRIBUTORS

  • Russell Brandom