The Russian Fashion Blog I Don’t Have to Love Your Clothes: Confessions of a Fashion Sales Agent




I Don’t Have to Love Your Clothes: Confessions of a Fashion Sales Agent

Written by Tanya Gabrielyan of Bridge Showroom (former Ctyl’ Network)

I Dont Have to Love Your Clothes: Confessions of a Fashion Sales AgentI hate shopping. Always did. Retail temptations that drive so many women and men crazy leave me untouched. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate fine clothing, have been heard gasping over a pair of Roger Vivier’s Gommettes, or a Margiela’s deconstructed jacket. I love dressing up and would never be caught wearing sweats in public. I feel better, prettier and sexier if I am sporting a new outfit by my favorite designer. But shopping, browsing department store aisles, going into fitting rooms, excruciating decision-making – all this is not for me.

It is this immunity to the charms of boutiques and designer showrooms that in a weird way makes me a better sales person. I can actually focus on the business side of fashion, and if it makes me slightly more pragmatic, so be it. I always tell the designers I work with, “I don’t have to love your clothes, I have to be able to sell them.”

I chose fashion as my main occupation just a few years ago. Since moving to the US from Ukraine, my husband Ken Nachbar and I decided to start our own fashion sales agency. Earlier in life I worked for large multinationals, brokered business development deals and ran a successful beauty business. Ken ran multi-million dollar government projects and turned around companies and industries in developing countries around the world. Between the two of us we have two MBA degrees, keen business acumen, a shared entrepreneurial spirit, and a love for road trips.

As I sit in my office and look around, it is pretty amazing how far we got in the last 2-3 years since CTYL’. Network has come to exist. We currently represent five leading designers from Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan, selling their lines across the United States. It was and is a very exciting journey, a HUGE learning curve for both us and the designers we work with.

We started CTYL’. Network as a company that specializes on fashion designers from Eastern Europe and countries of the former Soviet Union. When we started, none of the brands we encountered have been selling in the US market, very few had appreciation of how large this market is and what potential it holds for a successful fashion brand. Some designers were highly skeptical and thought American women all wear casual boring clothes and have no interest or appreciation for fine designs. Some designers NEVER had retail customers, effectively functioning as glorified tailors for their select private clients. With all this emotional resistance and operational unpreparedness it was not an easy task to convince the designers to give America and us a try.

So our task was not only to select great lines and start selling them, but also to educate designers about how to best adapt and position their lines for the US market. To help determine, who their customer is here, how and where does she shop, how much she likes to pay for her clothes and what is important to her when she is buying a garment. Communicating what we see and learn, analyzing our findings and interpreting them for the designers are a huge part of what we do. Since we are working with the lines that are all new for this market, we treat this as a marathon, not a sprint and set long-terms strategies for all our brands.

One of the questions I often hear is whether there is resistance to Russian or Ukrainian fashion (put any Eastern European country name here) on part of American buyers. My experience is that no, buyers do not really care where the line comes from as long as it is amazing, different and sells well. Where I do see resistance is generally to picking new lines. Buyers have been burnt so many times with inconsistent quality, late or incomplete deliveries, poor fit or other problems that working with a new line often means that they think not twice, not even three times, but long and hard before they take a chance on a new collection. And this means that any designer breaking into a new market has to be patient, and understand that success won’t happen overnight. This is hard for some designers, both emotionally and sometimes financially. So, it is our job to make sure we get there sooner – by focusing on developing a great collection, with exceptional quality, at great prices, and by wowing the buyers.

We are always looking for new lines. This spring, we undertook a major pan-European tour scouting for new designers; we visited seven countries and met over 45 designers. Right now there are several fantastic lines in our pipeline that we are extremely excited about and can’t wait to start working with. We are currently very interested in workwear lines, would love to see a contemporary line of cocktail and special occasion dresses for younger women, a novelty jacket line, and a casual sportswear line. Give us a shout if you want to share your favorite line with us!

Bridge Showroom (former Ctyl’ Network) represents the following brands:

I Dont Have to Love Your Clothes: Confessions of a Fashion Sales Agent

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Chapurin – Russia’s premier designer Igor Chapurin engineers his stunning dresses to perfection. You actually do look slimmer and taller when you put one of his dresses on – it’s absolute magic! Our favorites for Fall are his work-to-evening wool jersey dresses paired up with fitted short jackets.

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I Dont Have to Love Your Clothes: Confessions of a Fashion Sales Agent
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Poustovit – Ukrainian designer whose collections sold in Dover Street Market and 10 Corso Como – has already created a loyal following among American women with her easy romantic and comfortable clothes. Fall collection’s favorite is a shirt dress in deep navy with tuxedo-like tail in the back..
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I Dont Have to Love Your Clothes: Confessions of a Fashion Sales Agent

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Bobkova – a breakthrough line from Ukraine – creates architectural edgy collections aimed at urban stylish women. In August, Christina Bobkova will be coming to the US to premier her Fall/ Winter collection with a number of in-store appearances on the West Coast. Look us up on Facebook (Bridge Showroom) for a schedule of events and location details.

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I Dont Have to Love Your Clothes: Confessions of a Fashion Sales Agent

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Zemskova and Vorozhbyt – a stylish design duo is wowing the American customer with their rock-n-roll aesthetic. We love their grey tunic dress with leather pockets for Fall!

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I Dont Have to Love Your Clothes: Confessions of a Fashion Sales Agent.

Our new line from Kazakhstan, Mechanical Piano, is a true gem. In their first season they have been picked up by a number of leading boutiques on the West coast and will hang next to such conceptual lines as Gary Graham, Lost & Found, and MM6. This line should be on your must-see list if you appreciate intellectual clothing.

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For inquiries, please contact Tanya via:
Twitter: @bridgeshowroom
Facebook: Bridge Showroom
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I’m grateful beyond words to Tanya Gabrielyan for writing this article and for all the great work she and Ken Nachbar are doing to put Russian and Ukrainian designers on US retail map!

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I Dont Have to Love Your Clothes: Confessions of a Fashion Sales Agent


 

  • Michael Fieman

    We are 7 Albania companies that have been doing assembly work(CMT) for top EU brands. The companies have designed their own collections for the first and will show at CPM in September. We seek marketing assistance. Please contact Michael Fieman anmerican consultant living in albania
    fieman.m@gmail.com

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