Margarita Robertson is the buyer and Creative Director at Plume Store. She began her retail fashion career in 1975 and expressed how back then the fashion world looked very different, international brands were not as easily sourced and the import duties were enormous. Over the late 80s and early 90s, she began travelling all around the world and sourcing brands from all around Japan and Europe.
Plume store has always had a point of difference in the marketplace with their wide demographic appeal. Stocking everything from socks to tailored coats, with everything in between. Many of their garments are gender fluid, with a common denominator of ageless wearability. Robertson told us how at Plume they have built a remarkable community with a very loyal and trusting clientele.
There are many benefits for designers having their collections stocked in stores like Plume as opposed to mass department stores, as they offer wonderful opportunities to engage with the knowledgeable staff, who also adore the collections they buy from. "The store ensures no two people leave the store looking the same, the uniqueness of each individual is taken into consideration, and the liaison is very personal."
To stand out as a designer, Robertson said she looks for designers' own signatures and trademarks so that their style is easily identified in-store and that no two brands look the same. Her advice to designers looking to be stocked in a unique retail store is to: "Be unique and look to see if their style would fit with our stable." When curating a portfolio of different designers, Robertson will find a common thread among the designers to make it cohesive. They will sit alongside other brands with the same aesthetic while still maintaining their own trademark.
Plume's priority as a brand is on sustainability and made-to-last investment pieces. Robertson told us how they do not buy garments that are in fast fashion explaining: "We ourselves are not trend followers, we know that we offer style that is outside trends." She added that they are concentrating on their current portfolio and staying with what they know as the consumer market is unpredictable in these ever-changing times.
Robertson has seen shifts in the industry since she first started her fashion career, noting that it is exceptionally competitive now, and now so many designers are choosing to have their collections produced offshore due to increasing labour costs. "However, I feel our particular market is very discerning and only purchases garments that they know are ethically made and are sustainable in the sense that they are not thrown away after one season."
The pandemic has affected buyers like Roberston as she told us how she has been unable to travel overseas and examine the garments in person. "I have been buying garments from images, luckily I am pretty aware of what each of our brand's styles is so it's not too challenging. I miss being able to touch and feel the garments, but I guess that time will return."