When you have the chance to chat with a 25-year fashion veteran, you take it. Knowing what questions to ask can be a challenge – where to begin? Arlene Goldstein is considered a “Yoda” of sorts to stylists, fashion publications and fashion companies throughout the country. She’s currently VP of Trend Merchandising and Fashion Direction at Belk and also serves as a contributing writer for The Huffington Post. Though her stature is petit, her knowledge is anything but. Here’s a look into how Arlene got started with Belk and how certain designer labels are chosen just for you!
Q: Where are you from and how are you involved in the fashion industry?
A: I’m from Birmingham, Alabama. The Belk Brothers bought the company I was working for and the rest is history. I’ve been in Charlotte, North Carolina [Belk Headquarters] for six years where they hired me as VP of Trend Merchandising and Fashion Direction. I am, by any other name, a “forecaster.”
Q: Can you explain what you do for Belk?
A: I bring color and trend direction to everyone [at Belk], working first with product development, then with the buyers as the season gets closer and bringing information to the visual teams to marketing. Now, my job is so multi-channeled. Social media is so important with Belk.com and raising the fashion quotient there. Just a really exciting place to be.
A: Everything begins and ends with product; the product has to be right. We have to feel good about bringing it to the consumer.
Q: What is the biggest mistake that you see people presenting their collection/showing their product – the biggest ‘no-no’?
A: The gap between runway and real-way without stifling creativity too much – but make sure everything is wearable and that it has commercial value. You want somebody to buy it.
Q: Is this an issue you see a lot with designers?
A: It’s a slippery slope, you want it to be fabulous and interesting and innovative and on the other hand [ask], who will wear it.
Q: Summer is here, what top trends will we see at Belk?
A: Decidedly fresh colors and exotic patterns (a touch of tribal) are setting the tone for summer. Add some arm candy- yes, layers of interesting bracelets, a strappy flat sandal and you’re set.
Q: What’s your go-to style for summer and three of your favorite looks?
A: My go-to style is elegant and easy. My favorites looks are a soft printed pant with a tank or tea, head to toe white with British tan shoes and tote, and a soft skirt that sweeps the floor with a white tank and tons of turquoise jewelry.
Q: If you could give designers a piece of advice on building a collection what would it be?
A: Ask :”Where would you wear it? What would you wear it with? Who would it fit?”
It takes more than a pretty face, I mean, dress (pant, suit, skirt) to make its way into the doors of your favorite stores. Planning, envisioning and connecting with the bigger audience all play big roles in the final products you see on the racks. Designers take note -Arlene has spoken!