THE ARTISAN CLIENT
It was in the autumn of 2016, while visiting La Jolla, the renowned palm tree-lined coastal town in Southern California, that I came across our closest retail partner to date. While walking down the high street I stumbled upon a unique boutique called Sigi’s. I was attracted by the clean, sophisticated aesthetic and the carefully curated collection of designers within. I got talking to the attentive sales team of Karla, Billie and Marguerite, three ladies who I could tell were extremely knowledgeable, the type of professionals who instinctively knew how to cater to their clients’ preferences.
I introduced the ladies to RUSKIN and they warmly invited me to return the following week to meet the owner, Phyllis Lanphier. When it comes to luxury fashion, there is not much Phyllis has not seen. Despite operating a small store, Phyllis has managed to compete and prevail over larger, impersonal retailers, principally due to her dedication to customer satisfaction and maintaining a deep knowledge of her clients who are in search of rarer, artisanal products. The success of Sigi’s, in short, is down to the the personalised shopping experience. The ambience is orchestrated through immaculate detailing that engages all the senses. Subtle edits of soft Scottish cashmere scarves, ultra lightweight, tailored down jackets and world class Italian leathers comprise a quite unique collection far removed from the uniformity of today’s department stores.
In that initial conversation between Phyllis and I, we talked about people’s perception of luxury today and agreed it is in a state of flux. However, we both felt that the concept of luxury was, at its core about rarity, authenticity and provenance. Two years on and we are delighted to celebrate our relationship with Sigi’s which has evolved along with our product line. As Sigi’s welcome in novel RUSKIN designs we, in turn, value the feedback we receive from Sigi’s and their discerning clients.
It is the loss of connection between the artisan, buyer and product that has contributed significantly to the crisis in retail in recent years. With the ease at which we can now make purchases from faceless multinational companies, we have become further and further removed from what we buy. There is, however a rising, countervailing force now that people are calling ‘the rise of the artisan economy’ that sees independent specialists maintaining an edge by appealing to consumers’ growing desire for more meaningful brands. Many consumers today are tiring of mainstream, mass-produced products in favor of the handmade, the independent and the hard-to-find. Equally, these consumers place great value on their time and enjoy the pleasure of shopping in smaller stores that express their personality and lifestyle. It is here where savvy, independent retailers set themselves apart as they are able to offer a tailored experience and build a deeper connection with their clients in order to maintain a long term relationship. For me this is embodied in the Sigis experience and we are proud to sit alongside other like minded brands that are showcased in the boutique.
With gratitude to Phyllis, Karla, Billie and Marguerite