In April this year, the world’s top luxury e-commerce destination as measured by site traffic, Farfetch, announced its plan for the store of the future. Contrary to what you might think, this new frontier of retail (think modular platforms designed to capture important customer data) will not exist online, but in the traditional brick-and-mortar store.
Physical retail spaces have yet to really benefit from the digital revolution. However, with online sales of personal luxury goods set to plateau at around 20% of all sales by 2025, the physical boutique remains as important as ever. After all, no matter how convenient shopping online can be, nothing beats that emotional connection you feel with a great garment when you see it, touch it and try it on in real life.
One local boutique with a firm foot in both camps is multi-brand boutique Momento Dezigns. An industry stalwart in Canberra, Momento roared onto the scene over twenty years ago. Operating alongside their physical boutique in Manuka, is Frockoholics, an online destination also devoted to frocks, daywear, accessories and outerwear.
While Momento is perhaps best known for its ocassionwear, the boutique offers so much more than just designer gown. ‘We do special occasion wear, and we do it really well but we are just as busy with out daywear as our formalwear’, owner Ros explained to me when I went to visit the store recently. ‘Where we can, we like to promote Australian designers, and when it comes to eveningwear, really no one does it better for the price.’
Ros and Momento take supporting Australian talent very seriously and have always been great spotters of emerging talent. Indeed, the Momento stable boasts a roster of the who’s who of Australian fashion: ‘I bought Rachael Gilbert’s first collection. I bought Alex’s [Perry] first commercial collection. I bought first collections from Camilla, Alannah Hill, Josh Goot, Dion Lee, and Manning Cartel. We were the first to bring Trelise [Cooper] to Canberra. I bought the second collection from Camilla & Marc.’
‘The designers trust us with their labels. They know that we will honour them. Sometimes someone will try on a dress and will say, “I like this dress, but I don’t like this part” and we explain that the designer has made it this way for a reason. It’s just the wrong dress for you, so lets find the right one. And we have other options.’
For that is the magic of a multi-brand boutique, there are always different design perspectives to choose from. If the cut of one designer isn’t working for your body, you don’t have to leave the store to try something different.
Talking with Ros about the designers she champions revealed many anecdotes from over the years, as did our conversation on clients and customer service. For as much as advancements in retail to come such as clothing racks that sense and evaluate a customer’s browsing habits and tastes, or a digital mirror that doubles as an interactive screen allowing you to request different sizes and styles, it is meaningful connections between staff and customer that sets the physical retail experience apart from the online.
While I was in store, a regular client happened to pop by. She had purchased her wedding dress from Momento over fifteen years ago and now regularly returned for her fashion fix or sometimes just to chat. Ros attests that customer service and personal styling are key to the boutiques success: ‘I work every weekend because I still have the same clients who come from Sydney or elsewhere because of the variety of labels and the service we offer.’
This year, Ros and the team will be spreading their magic touch beyond Manuka and onto the runway of FASHFEST. On the opening night of Canberra’s premier fashion event Momento will be showcasing labels exclusive to the boutique including Alex Perry, KITX, Misha Collection, and Moss & Spy. And for those of you who like what they see, you will be able to shop the runway both in-store and online. For the team at Momento knows that to be successful into the future, it important to have both options.
Momento will be showcasing exclusive labels on the FASHFEST runway on Opening Night, Thursday 28 September 2017