The past five years have been painful for Australian retail. From the demise of famously successful brands like Lisa Ho through to the disappointing annual results from century-old family businesses that have survived world wars and The Depression like Myer, the old bricks and mortar model has been attacked on a number of fronts. The impact of the GFC was compounded by the surge in online shopping and government legislation that impacted their cost base such as The Fair Work Act. And that’s before you even get to the questions of leadership and strategy.
While media attention has been focused on disasters at the big end of retailing, it’s the smaller owner-operators whose houses and livelihoods are on the line that are thinking outside the box and creating change for the industry.
Eclettica designer and owner Alexia Gnecchi-Ruscone and Mr Rose designer and owner Sophie Toohey have joined forces for a new venture that they believe will offer their customers something they cannot get online: personalised, old-fashioned service.
Last week they launched the label Good Day Girl to the existing customer base of their two brands. As a long-time Eclettica customer I attended a preview showing on the weekend and was excited by this fresh concept. The idea is that for three weeks only, starting now, customers can order their next season wardrobe customised to fit. An appointment is made and either Sophie or Alexia will personally take you through the range. There are choices of colors, fabrics and even lengths to choose from. You make your choice and then the order will be ready for the start of the new season, exactly when you need it. Customers who can’t get to an appointment will also have the option of ordering online, but strictly for the limited period of three weeks.
The business model will ensure that there is no end-of-season fire sale, which has become commonplace all year round for most other fashion retailers. Take a walk through any Westfield centre and you’ll be blinded by the number of ‘Sale’ signs. It also provides this savvy duo with the cash flow required to produce the clothing without risk.
This does require a shift in thinking away from the instant gratification most associated with fashion shopping. Customers will need to be able to wait eight weeks before they can wear what they have bought. Alexia and Sophie see this as less of an issue for their primarily 30-plus age of their customer base. This is a concept that would be less attractive to the ‘want-it-now’ young women’s market.
“We were searching for a way to offer more to our clients: more service, more choice, more sizes, more styling know-how. At the same time we were also wanting to create a new business model that enables us to enjoy a good day as well!” Alexia explained.
“We are shaking things up a little. Good Day Girl takes a modern approach to the fashion boutique of yesteryear. Simple, direct, innovative – made to order, made for you – creating capsule collections that work as hard as you do. It’s a combination of wanting to create an exceptional level of client service and also best business practice.”
The Good Day Girl idea was conceived with groups of girlfriends over many glasses of wine. Their friends told them the hard truth about fashion.
“A lot of women either don’t have time to shop or don’t like shopping, and are not really sure on how to put a style or look together. We want to be able to offer the clothing and also the know-how to give women the ease and confidence to get their wardrobe sorted,” Alexia said.
“On the business practice side, there is a lot of waste in the fashion industry – it’s the bane of our existence. It’s hard to guess what sizes to create each season, and inevitably there is surplus stock. We are taking the guess work out of the equation and focusing on what our clients actually want, we are putting them in the driver’s seat, this will eliminate any excess stock issues and keep operations tight.”
The Good Day Girls have budgeted for 400 appointments in year one, across three seasons. At that level they believe they will have a strong foundation for a solid new fashion label and potentially a key to future success for the bricks and mortar side of the fashion industry.
Fast Facts about Good Day Girl
- Designed by Alexia Gnecchi Ruscone and Sophie Toohey in Sydney Australia.
- Made by partners in production all over the world
- Each piece is made to order for you
- Sizes available 4 – 20
- Different lengths available
- Different colours available
- Limited in edition
Orders available from 5 August to 24 August
Delivery mid October 2013.
Make your appointment to view and try the collection at the Good Day Girl Salon – 31 Norfolk Street, Paddington NSW 2021
Contact: (02) 9368 1423 or [email protected]
You can also order online