Fashion Tribe

Macy's Caprice Willard in town to talk 'Fashion Star'

April 20th, 2012

capriceNadine Kam photo
Caprice Willard stopped into Macy's Ala Moana on April 19, to see how she can improve the women's apparel mix.

Typical fashion coverage focuses on designers and products, but the success of NBC's "Fashion Star" takes us into the world of the buyer, and Macy's Caprice Willard was in town today to fill us in on some of the thoughts that go into determining the how, why and all-important how much that goes into deciding whether or not to extend a buy offer to  a designer.

As the Vice President/Regional Planning Manager for Women's Apparel for Macy's Southwest Region, which includes Hawaii, she was in town simply as a matter of doing her job, checking in on stores to determine whether her team's last buys are working out, and pick up a wish list for Spring 2013.

My interview with Caprice will appear in the paper prior to the "Fashion Star" finale on May 15, during which the series' winner will be revealed. The reality competition series started with the idea of searching for the next big brand in fashion. The series is giving 14 unknown designers the chance to win a multi-million dollar prize to launch their collections in Macy's, H&M and Saks Fifth Avenue.

But to me, the designers on the show—working for the sale rather than to break new ground in fashion—take a back seat to the buyers' work.

I wondered how she could be so assured that the garments she picks will sell, but after 18 years in the business, she said she's learned a lot about what customers want, and she said the show, because of its immediacy—with winning garments offered online for purchase right after the show—has actually given her important feedback. Where she might have been more conservative in the past, the sold-out offerings have shown her that shoppers are more daring than she thought, and she'll be shopping in the future with that in mind.

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