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BoF LIVE: The Future of the Independent Fashion Store

Local luxury retailers are poised to succeed post-pandemic. Two industry veterans share their strategies.

NEW YORK, United States — For the latest in our series of #BoFLive events, Executive Editor Lauren Sherman was joined by Ikram Goldman, founder of legendary Chicago store Ikram, and Sherri McMullen, owner of Oakland, Ca.’s McMullen, who shared how they are navigating the economic fallout of the pandemic, shifts in consumer sentiment and the pace at which the fashion industry operates.

As multi-location department stores struggle to find their footing, independent stores are more valuable than ever to both brands and consumers. “Small boutiques are always going to be around. This is truly the time for us to shine… and to really show what we do,” Goldman said. “We’re not shrinking like department stores… we’re growing our businesses… To us, the small boutiques, we live to grow and create.”

Like many businesses, Ikram and McMullen have had to pivot and adapt in order to operate within the “new normal” by implementing social distancing and safety measures. This also includes requiring shoppers to make appointments in advance, something which McMullen anticipates will be a part of the business for the long run.

“We can only have so many people in the store at the same time… I think the most important thing is that people are safe and they feel comfortable,” McMullen said. “People are already setting up appointments, which [was] really encouraging.”

“This is our new life, so we just take the best precautions to make everybody as safe as possible,” Goldman added.

For McMullen and Goldman, the period of upheaval has signalled the need for the fashion industry at large to reassess the pace at which garments are produced and the incessant travel involved in procuring inventory.

“This time has really allowed me to really think about the pace at which we were working," McMullen said. "It was non stop, as a buyer I was travelling every month to a different market... and when you think about it, does it really make sense?"

To participate in #BoFLive, BoF’s digital events series offering insight, advice and inspiration, visit our calendar where you can find details of upcoming digital events.

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