As you all know Crew Cuts is one of our favorite brands on Stroller in the City. I was lucky enough to speak with Personal Shopper, Nichole Whiting. Here is what she had to say (a must read)………….
What is it like being a personal shopper for crewcuts?
It is fantastic. I have 3 children, ages 10, 8 and 5. I was one of crewcuts first customers in 2006, I’ve been there through every chino and every ruffle. I just love how they’ve taken kids’ clothing and turned it on its head…to a somersault! How can you not smile when you see the tees, the colors, the branded partnerships they have, but in itty-bitty sizes? Also, I live in Tribeca, and like most, try to shop in Tribeca as much as possible. So when this store opened in February on Hudson at Duane Park, becoming a Personal Shopper for the brand was something I was dying to do.
I have a Design degree, but in the nineties, I actually applied that to various Customer Service roles (when the internet was fast and loose)! Now I get to use both sides of that coin when shopping for others. In one instance I had a mom say, “I love crewcuts, I just don’t want my son to look like every other kid in his class.” So I pulled 5 or 6 outfits that reflected his individual little style and it was amazing! You never know if the client will get your vision, but she did and took it all home! Then another mom pulled pages from the catalog and wanted to replicate the entire outfits exactly. I loved that too (I mean, is that catalog amazing or what?), but I needed to adjust a few things to go along with items she either had at home, or colors that were more flattering for her child’s coloring. Being a Personal Shopper means I’m constantly problem-solving. My solutions just happen to be bright and pint-sized.
Being a mom and surrounded by others purchasing kids clothing, are you constantly shopping for your own kids?
Is my husband reading this? I wish I could tell you no, but that’s my little secret: when I’ve pulled together an outfit for a client I always re-use those creative juices on my own kids. I love that my soon-to-be-tween loves crewcuts as much as I do, we are always talking about ways to make the newest pieces reflect her own personality. My 5 year old Daisy is my sweet blonde guinea pig- she was the first one in the chambray romper and silver Sven clogs. She will wear just about anything I put in front of her, and I have so much fun seeing something new and wondering how Daisy would look in it. All of this on my own kids really helps me answer questions on sizing, fit, purpose (like will it work for a specific event?) and wearability for the everyday. I’ve ‘test-driven’ much of the clothing in the store on my kids. This might seem compulsive, but I’ve been known to bring my kids in on a quiet morning and have them try on the newest things to see how they look off the hanger. Well, then I end up buying everything they’ve tried on. I just tell my husband it’s ‘research.’
What is the inspiration for the Spring/Summer 2011 collection and does the J Crew Mens/womens line influence it any way?
I know that Jenny Cooper (crewcuts’ style guru) can answer this way better than I can, so can I just offer my personal opinion? J.Crew has always been about using color, and crewcuts is no different. You know how this spring there’s been a wave of color-blocking down the runway? Lots of primary colors together in solid formats? Crewcuts has it! That bright yellow and that ‘new’ bright blue (that mixes so well with navy blue and white, FYI- try it!) Very Crayola 8-pack, very fun. Balanced out with a lot of bright white. Neon’s still going strong among the younger set, especially because they weren’t around in the 80s and day-glo is all new to them. And mixing of prints- crewcuts has more prints than I had noticed in previous seasons- so you know what? I just mix them up!
What I love love love about J.Crew/crewcuts is that the fabric that is making the selvedge denim shirt in Womens is the very same fabric that we will have in our denim shirt in crewcuts! And detail: contrasting buttonholes, finishing, up-to-date fit, and quality fabrics—we get all of it at crewcuts too.
Crewcuts gets the same ‘borrowed from the boys’ things that Womens gets. The nautical/marine stripe? Ditto. And my favorite, our branding partnerships with names such as Sperry or Converse we get to enjoy in crewcuts as well. Just yesterday I finally bought my daughter the gold Sperry topsiders that I already have.
Since most of your clients are parents purchasing for their kids, what are they mainly interested in, “form or function” ?
My smartest clients approach it right down the middle. They understand the need to get the fun tees and flouncy skirts so their kids will have fun getting dressed in the morning. When something in the store is just too cute to pass up, the mom has just as much fun buying it as the child will have wearing it! Fun clothes on our kids reminds us not to take parenting so seriously all the time! But those same parents also know that those functional pieces (chino, dark denim, cashmere, even navy leggings) are going to go the distance in a million different situations, from the playground to a restaurant to Picture Day at school. I really encourage parents to give a nod to reality and versatility when planning their big seasonal wardrobes. My specialty is turning 5 individual pieces into 5 outfits!
Here’s the disclaimer though- when my clients are grandmothers, all bets are off. They are shopping purely for the joy of it. I help them spoil their grandkids with sequins, bright colors, and no rules whatsoever.
What are your three fav must haves?
Can this be a two part answer?
· Bermudas in the color or style of your choice – dressed up or down, rolled up or left long- totally versatile and flattering on any little body
· Cardigans- short sleeved, long sleeved, cashmere, cotton. My girls have no less than 10 each, and even when they’ve technically grown out of it, they wear it shrunken in the summer with a tank and it looks hip. Boys’ answer to the cardi? The hoodie- just as versatile and looks great!
· White tee: embellished or not, the idea of a child looking clean and fresh is a timeless ideal. It calms me. And bleaches beautifully.
· Neon- crewcuts has neon tees for boys! HOW COOL! Who cares if this won’t be around in 2012, this is just too much fun to pass up.
· Yellow- this season’s canary yellow goes with a wedgewood blue, navy, white, and bright pink!- a yellow cardigan could stretch across miles of outfits!
· Nautical stripes- think of it has a neutral, not “navy-and-white” and mix it with a plaid short or colored tee such as bright green or purple.