Cinq à Sept founder Jane Siskin prides herself on the fashion brand’s ability to quickly respond to the stuff that sells. “We have a great ‘fast-track program’ where we can quickly build on the good styles,” said Siskin. To do that, she and her team lean on sales data — “We can see by store, we can see by color, we can even see by size if we want to,” she said — though the actual turnaround time depends on a few factors. Fabric is a big one.
“If it’s a repeat style, exactly as it was before — a reorder in a fabric that we own — it could be four to six weeks. If it’s something new, there’s a material change to it, add another couple weeks to it. And if we don’t have the fabric, you’re adding a month.”
On this week’s Glossy Podcast, Siskin spoke about fashion, the branding boon that is having a French name (even if you’re based in Los Angeles) and the reason why “you have to have your head in the sand if you don’t think it’s a scary time for retail.”
Here are a few highlights from the conversation, lightly edited for clarity.
The value of brick-and-mortar
“Finding ways to have a dialogue with the customer without being in brick-and-mortar is the trick. We definitely spend a lot of time on the road. I do a lot of specialty store and department store events. That’s honestly the best source of information, and it’s also where we gain our most avid supporters. These women — I hear a lot of, ‘I can’t pull that off.’ And I’m like, ‘Yes, you can. Of course you can!’ And once you understand why they think they can’t pull it off, then you can really think about how to put it on the rack and have them see it and think, ‘Hmm, maybe I can.’ People are generally afraid of fashion. So how we get that message across and how we make that clear is really the whole game. And we learn so much about that from the customers themselves.”
Making physical retail work
“Give the customer a new experience through product. It’s hard to fit everything in, and I totally understand that. Curate! You don’t have to have everything. Take a risk and say, ‘I’m going to have this, and I’m not going to have that,’ rather than have a sea of stuff that overwhelms the customer, and they walk around, don’t know what to do and leave.”
The alternatives to DTC
“There are so many new models today, and it’s changing so quickly. We wanted to build brands that were going to be ready to change for the future, but the wholesale model is something that we know. I don’t really want to be a retailer, to be honest with you. I understand that everybody is running to open stores now — the rents are cheap, and Madison Avenue is wide open, so people are opening stores there. For us, there are other ways to tell our story, and we’re looking for those ways. E-commerce is certainly a way.”