Five Shop Girls & One (Brave) Guy
Fashion and the future of retail
MIDTOWN STYLE: Caycee Garlow and Kris Koenig, owners of Twill Boutique
Years in business: October marks our 11th anniversary of the opening of our shop in Waldo.
Differences in the style of shoppers by age group: We have noticed our more mature shoppers want additional style details such as higher necklines, longer lengths or sleeves. However, age doesn’t seem to play a factor when it comes to wanting to look and feel good in clothes.
On online shopping’s impact on the bottom line: Most, if not all, of our customers have a smartphone and can search online while shopping in our store. This is something we constantly keep in mind when choosing new lines, and it’s why we keep our prices moderate.
On e-commerce: We have had an online store the last two years. We closed it last month. Even though we had shipped to almost every state (including Alaska and Hawaii), it took up a large bulk of our time throughout the week between shooting, editing and loading products onto the website. We decided we’d rather devote that time to our local customers here in the boutique instead of being stuck behind the computer.
On what’s new for fall: Off-the-shoulder and ruffles are everywhere. Shearling jackets, shades of camel and plaid on everything.
On the survival of skinny jeans: As long as there are boots, there will be skinny jeans.
327 E. 55th St., Kansas City, Mo., (816) 444-7797, shoptwill.com
NORTH KC FASHION ICON: Kandie Erickson-Bender, owner of La~De~Da
Years in business: 11 years
On the weirdest thing about owning a boutique: I’ve always thought it was strange to go out and buy things, then put them in a store and hope you bought things people would like.
On Northland shoppers versus shoppers south of the river: Northlanders are fiercely loyal to local boutique owners, partly because there are so few. Shoppers from the South have many more options, so it’s great when they make visiting our shop a destination.
On online shopping’s impact on the business: The last few years, we have been offering online access to our merchandise. Having a storefront as well as an online store is vital to the ultimate survival to any boutique.
On what’s new for fall: We are seeing longer hemlines at mid-calf, lots of faux fur and faux leather bomber jackets, and denim in dresses and jackets. Wide-leg denim is making an appearance in a big way, as are evening jumpsuits and dressy rompers for the holidays.
On changes in the way consumers shop: Social media has drastically changed the game. You can have a store in Prague and sell online to someone sitting at their computer in Kansas City and vice versa. Still, I believe the personal experience of touching and seeing something before you buy it at a store that values your business will always have a place in the fashion marketplace.
6058 NW 63rd Terrace, Kansas City, Mo., (816) 741-5354, ladedakc.com
JOHNSON COUNTY TRENDSETTERS: Julia and Jan Morgan, co-owners of Frankie & Jules
Years in business: 10
On the weirdest thing about owning a boutique: Continuing to reinvent our store to keep up with not only fashion trends but new ways to shop.
On the difference in shopping habits of women under 40 versus over 40-year-old shoppers: Most of our young shoppers are looking for a fashion-forward piece to wear out that day/night, and our more mature customer is usually looking for something practical. Luckily, we have something for both.
On how online shopping has affected business: Many of our customers head off to college or move out of state but still want to shop with us. Facebook and Instagram have been amazing platforms that allow shopping outside of our store.
On what the Kansas City retail scene is missing: Southern Overland Park has seen many retailers moving to the area, but we could stand more small businesses. The energy and unique variety local owners bring is so much better than big-box stores.
On fall trends: We’re going to see lots of cutout shoulder and lace-up sweaters, tops and dresses, ‘70s-inspired looks from suede skirts, shearling coats and vests to patchwork denim and cutout booties.
On the change in women’s wardrobe needs: When we first started, leggings were one of the hottest trends, but shoppers were shy about being so casual. Now, a majority of our shoppers are dressing more casually.
On the survival of the skinny jean this season: We still see the skinny jean, but we are also seeing the boyfriend and girlfriend jean becoming a shopper favorite. Boot cuts and ‘70s flares are gaining popularity in denim this fall, as well.
On how retail has evolved over the past few years: Two words: social media.
16070 Metcalf Ave., Stilwell, Kan., (913) 544-1700,
PRAIRIE VILLAGE POSH: Tracy Gretter, owner of Clique Boutique
Years in business: We celebrated 5 years in business last April.
On the weirdest thing about owning a fashion boutique: People assume I love to shop, but shopping is one of my least favorite things to do.
On the difference in shopping habits of women under 40 versus over 40-year-old shoppers: Younger shoppers tend to be more adventurous with trends. Mature customers care more about quality and wearability.
On what’s missing on the retail scene: Locally owned men’s clothing stores for everyday basics, especially for men 25 to 45 years of age.
On how shopping habits have changed in recent years: Social media has helped us get to know our customers’ needs. With that knowledge, we have been able to tailor our selections.
6951 Tomahawk Road, Prairie Village, Kan., (913)362-3030, cliqueboutiquekc.com
COUTURE IN THE CROSSROADS: Leslie Fraley, owner of Finefolk
Years in business: We opened our doors in November 2013. Despite being tucked away in an obscure, small studio, we quickly garnered a loyal customer base.
On the difference between younger shoppers and more mature clientele: Modern style adapts to any age. In the spring of 2015, we created a massive mood board installation inside the shop made up of images we took of our customers in Finefolk clothing. It was our way of celebrating the diversity of the women we work with; we believe confident style transcends age.
On the impact of online shopping: Our online store has been a practice of patience and a slow, steady accumulation of national and international customers. It gives us another platform to express our brand and share what we love.
On the local retail scene: There seems to be a fair amount of discussion about “trends (locally),” yet I’ve found by not focusing on trends, but rather working honestly with our customers on dressing in a way that speaks to them is the best customer service we can offer. Fashion shouldn’t be disposable.
On the changing needs of women: We’ve found our customers dress for themselves and no longer dress for men, or other women. Because women are busier than ever, we make sure the pieces we offer will last through wear and tear and time.
On the survival of the skinny jean: If it feels good, keep wearing them. There’s quite a lot of variation on the skinny and slim-legged jean we carry at Finefolk. Our R13 has some killer skinny biker cuts.
122 Southwest Blvd., Kansas City, Mo., (816) 283-8144, finefolk.com