We started this week talking about stores (A Romp Through Anthropologie with the Bellas), shopping experiences and how shopping is different now than when good service and product knowledge was a given. Now it’s not unexpected to be in a store where sales people are mainly working the cashier counter and cleaning out dressing rooms.
Of course, some stores offer great service. I do love how you shared some of your favorite stores and sales associates on our Facebook page. They all get five shopping stars from me, too!
To continue this conversation about retail and where it’s headed, I want to share with you a shopping experience that was new to me. I think it’s really innovative and has a good chance of being successful. I’ll tell you about it and then you tell me what you think, okay?
The M2057 Shop by Maria Pinto
When I hear Maria Pinto’s name I think Chicago, Oprah, and Michelle. Back in the day they were clients of Maria Pinto. When I saw that the Chicago Chapter of AICI was sponsoring an event with Maria at her new Chicago store, M2057, I had to go!
What I experienced there was not what I’d expected. I was still thinking red carpet gowns and fancy dresses with matching coats.
But that’s not what she does anymore. She closed her luxury line in 2010. She was done. When I asked her why, she said it’s just too hard to compete for a space in the designer luxury arena.
But that didn’t mean she was done-done.
Business capital innovation
She took a break from it all but a new idea was brewing. She saw a void in the collections designers were putting out.
She was interested in clothes that could be worn by lots of people. Everyone who wore those pieces would be styling them differently and making them their own.
In 2013 she started a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to start her new venture. Her campaign raised $275,00 in 45 days. Early investors got to pick a dress, jacket or scarf of their choice for their investment. Over 600 customers from all over the world participated.
The shopping experience at M2057
When you go shopping at M2057 you see racks of beautiful pieces arranged by color. Your task is three-fold: find the style you like by trying different pieces on, try a piece in any color that they have in a sample (and they have many) so you find out your size, and then decide what color you want that piece in. Once you place your order, it will be shipped to you in two days.
Maria says, “My customers can come in, try things on, order pieces, and leave. It’s important that these pieces can be dressed up or down.”
Prices for the pieces run from $275 to $600.
It’s an interesting concept. By ordering the pieces and shipping them in two days, she is able to curb cumbersome costs. And the consumer appreciates this personalized service.
We asked her if there were celebrity fans of her clothes. She said, “I don’t give my clothes away. So if a celebrity likes it, they find it themselves.”
We wanted names. She dropped a couple: Sharon Stone and Brooke Shields. Generally her customers range from corporate to creative to philanthropic. Her pieces are excellent for travel.
Her fabric is unique. It’s very high tech and modern and comes from Italy. All the colors in her collection are custom. The production of her line happens here in the U.S.
Her clothes are machine washable.
Her design inspiration comes from art and architecture. She strolls through galleries all the time. They’re her second home.
Maria uses Pop Up stores as a way to test the interest in different areas as she anticipates adding more stores. She’d just finished a week of showing her clothes in San Francisco. She was getting ready to go to Washington, D.C.
I heard a rumor from one of the sales associates that they may consider opening a store in San Francisco. I think it would be a perfect fit because of the high tech fabric and sharp colors and the ease of dressing pieces up and down.
This shopping experience will be great for some people
I wanted to walk away with a piece of her clothing. I was very attracted to the tech fabrics and the saturated colors. Although she claims her clothes work for any body type and they go up to an XL or 14-16, in the time I spent in the dressing room I didn’t find anything that fit my body type. But I’m convinced that if I got to understand the line better, I’d probably be able to find something I’d love.
One of the people in our group tried a few things on and everything looked fabulous on her. Lucky Dawn!
Tech is becoming part of the fashion scene in so many ways. I admire her for embracing it.
We wanted to know how she came up with the name for her new concept. She thinks it’s crazy to fuss over age and she is proud of her 57 years. She will be one hundred years old in 2057. So there you go!!
Cheers to this great idea. If you’re in Chicago make a point of checking out her store!
Your thoughts? Do share!