It was our first week-long stretch of sunshine for the month of May. As I strolled past the busy boutiques on 4th Avenue, I noticed that most shoppers were already dressed in shorts and mid-sleeves. It seemed like summer was just around the corner.
I stopped in front of Hill's Dry Goods. Vestige had been stocked at Hills for a few seasons now. Its towering front doors were opened wide, welcoming curious shoppers into its spacious interior.
Their buyer, Katrina, was working on the floor that day. Our eyes met and we greeted each other with an exchange of hugs. To my pleasant surprise, she was wearing our signature pieces: the Vim pants and the Priori top. The navy linen-blend draped gently from her slender frame, and flowed with ease to her movements.
"Great to see you here!" Katrina exclaimed. She explained that it was a rare sight for her to be in the shop. "I usually am back at our office working on our buy, communicating with our vendors, or managing inventory."
"However, I like to stay connected with what's happening on the floor from time to time. I need to ensure the vision for our buy comes to fruition!"
We visited the Vestige rack, where our linen-blend staples and signature jumpsuits were neatly hung. I ran my fingers over the soft fabrics, happy to see my designs merchandised with other beautiful independent brands.
"All the Vestige pieces selected this season were chosen for their simplicity, wearability and attention to construction. What I love is how your pieces also pair nicely with other collections we have in store."
She pointed at the pants she was wearing. "I personally love the Vim Pants! The light weight linen-blend fabric makes it the perfect summer piece. The elastic waist is easy and comfy to wear, but still looks chic and well put together. Pairing this with the Priori Top makes it look like a full suit. I would style it with a pair of tomato coloured wedges from Rachel Comey!"
Taking hints from the professional stylist herself, I glanced towards their footwear collection in search of tomato coloured wedges. There it sat on the rack, in a beautiful shade of dark amber. Neighbouring it were a row of pretty, colourful summer sandals. Shoe lovers would have trouble deciding on a single pair to take home.
"Our clients really appreciate that Vestige is locally designed," Katrina continued as she adjusted the waist tie on on of our white cotton jumpsuit. "Your use of natural, easy to care for fabrics is perfect for women who want to dress with practicality and timelessness in mind."
I blushed a little at her kind compliment. Curious for more styling tips, I asked how she would style the popular Monad Jumpsuit.
Katrina led me to their jewellery section, where she picked up a minimal necklace with an abstract gold circle plate. I recognized it right away — it was designed by local jewellery brand Wolf Circus.
"I would add a touch of gold accent to your pieces with Wolf Circus' jewellery, creating an all-local ensemble. Having been in the buyer role for 8 years at Hills, I understand what it is that our customers need," Katrina explained. "At Hills, we have all different generations of shoppers so I try to ensure that we have a good variety of brands. There is everything, from local designer collections to premium denim to streetwear; and heritage brands alongside upstart emerging designers."
"I think the mix of brands is what makes us unique and why I love my work — it's all about sourcing the right designers and putting it all together to tell a story for our customers."
I nodded in agreement. The story is the same for designers, retailers, manufacturers and even our customers: we all believe in quality products. With longevity, sustainability and ethical practices in mind, we hope that the next time you bring home a piece of clothing from a shop, it will be a piece to treasure for many years to come.
My afternoon at Hill's ended with a visit to their decadent candy bar. Despite the ease of shopping online these days, I believe the experience of shopping in-store is truly irreplaceable.