A conversation with Jeff Garelick, Director of Sales for Wilkes Bashford.
by Steve Phipps/FAMAMOCA
9 October 2012
Director of Sales for Wilkes Bashford, Jeff Garelick, on-stage at the start of the Wilkes Bashford runway show at Simon Fashion Now; during the show, model Ashlee Disney in a dress from Jenny Packham; the closing looks of the show; in the San Francisco store. Photographs by the author.
Phipps: So we just saw you at Simon Fashion Now, and there were actually two shows on the 21st, one of them a benefit for Lucille Packard Children's Hospital. They do nice work in the community, they have outreach and things like mobile services for disadvantaged children, so let's give a voice to that right upfront. Here's their website and how people can get involved. Jeff, how did you get involved with Lucille Packard Children's Hospital?
Garelick: So big picture: We and the Mitchell family, who owns us, have a core value to be involved with the community. So in Connecticut and Long Island and here in California, we make sure we are involved with the community, and that we're also giving back to our community. Lucille Packard Children's Hospital we became involved with through one of our clients who's involved with the board. About a year and a half ago, we did a function in the store that was quite successful. And so when we were working with Simon, we decided that this would be a work for charity.
Phipps: I remember a Wilkes Bashford show this summer that we tried to get a pass for, but could not. I think it was, I think you gave a charity function at a private residence? with a safari theme?
Garelick: The one I think you are referring to is the Parca Organization on the Peninsula, which helps mentally challenged individuals as they get into adulthood. So we have done the Parca show three years now. And it's always been a private residence. And we've had a nice partnership with them.
Phipps: For our readers who might not be familiar with you: What is Wilkes Bashford, and who is the Wilkes Bashford customer?
Garelick: Wilkes Bashford is actually a man who started the Wilkes Bashford store in San Francisco forty-five years ago. Currently, we have two stores, one in Palo Alto and one here in San Francisco. We cater to the upper-end of fashion consumers, both Men's and Women's. Many people think of us a Men's store, but we're actually 60 percent Men's, 40 percent Women's. We have a long history with Women's. We have buyers that travel all over the world and bring the best of the best to San Francisco. And in addition to ready-to-wear, we also have shoes and handbags, as well as jewelry. And jewelry has become a more and more important part of our business.
Phipps: You do have a large selection of lines of fashion. When we prepped the interview with a designer-consultant, that was the first thing he said, "Wow, they have a lot of lines."
Garelick: Yes. We try to, in terms of fashion taste. We go from classic to more modern.
Phipps: Let's talk just a minute about Simon Fashion Now. I think it's a really smart idea: Different retailers in a large mall join forces and offer an evening of runway shows on the same stage. What was attractive to you about the concept?
Garelick: I think a couple of things. One, it can't be lost that we're involved in retailing fashion because we love fashion. We love clothing, we love styling, we love everything about it. So sharing that with the greater community is important. We want to share our passion. And the partnership with Simon is our opportunity to share our take on this season's current fashions, to let people know what our vision of this season is.
Phipps: But why not your own show? You definitely have a line of clothes, you could definitely carry a show on your own.
Garelick: Yes. We could certainly host a fashion show in any venue. That's not a challenge. And we do that actually. But the idea is that we want to expose Wilkes Bashford to perhaps people that are not currently familiar with us. The larger audience that Simon might give us. And we've had several people come back after the show who are new to Wilkes Bashford as a result.