Rosa Ng and Robin Reetz
At Coclico, we're continually exploring ways we can iterate our designs - the same idea applies to our retail experience too. When visiting our shop on Mott Street in Nolita, we aim to make our customers feel welcome, inspired and heard. We try to apply any and all feedback from our community into our future processes. Even still, the landscape is changing, and the future success of our industry relies heavily on new ways of thinking.
As a New York-based brand, innovation is right in our backyard, so we decided to turn to a couple of Coclico women we admire who are leading the charge in this space. Meet Rosa Ng of Good Goods and Robin Reetz, a well-respected fashion editor. We brought them together to discuss retail activism, the shopping experience, and their respective thoughts on the future of fashion.
Hello! I am Rosa. I am from Northern California and moved to New York about ten years ago. The past few years I’ve become passionate about helping small local independent designers share their story through online and seasonal pop-up experiences and thus began my first business, Young & Able, and most recently my second business, Good Goods.
On Making Good Goods
The inception of Good Goods came from my learning of my first business, Young & Able. I’ve always seen Young & Able as a small-scale, locally-based store. It was there where I learned a lot about myself as an entrepreneur and teaching myself through all the different aspects of sustaining a small business. I’ve always had a collaborative way of producing our annual pop-ups through a fee-based model with our participating brands. I saw the potential of a larger-scaled retail tech company through the validations of over 100+ brands that are willing to pay a minimal fee in exchange for a physical space for brand exposure and additional direct-to-consumer sale channels.
From there, Good Goods started in April 2017 and our first seasonal pop-up store opened in October 2017 and will be up until the end of January 2018 at 121 Prince St. in Soho, NYC. Currently, we have 70+ brands in-store and have already produced over 10+ store events ranging from panel talks, designer workshops, and launch parties. Nothing beats growing from a one-woman show to having an amazing in-store team of eight amazing women that help make the shop possible. The long-term goal for Good Goods is to have a network of spaces for brands to participate in nationwide.
The Rise of Independent Retail
Retail is going through a really hard time right now. From long-term leases expiring without renewal (due to continual rise of rents) to consumer spending habits changing, legacy brands are struggling to adapt to a new generation of shoppers. Everyone - from big to small brands - are all attempting to fine-tune, which led to an amazing opportunity for companies like Good Goods to prototype a new way of doing retail.
I think having a physical presence is crucial for these independent designers. Not only are there more brands out there than ever but we live in an overly stimulated society and culture that often foster more shallowness and superficial behavior. There is a genuine connection to the products through engaging with the piece in person that you don’t necessarily get through social media or online. The key is learning how to connect online and offline to grow the audience base seamlessly.
Future of Fashion
The future of fashion starts with the next generation of design students that we are training. Fundamentally, I think the design schools need to rethink their curriculum and take a much deeper dive into sustainability, technology, and the current issues of the industry. I hope we continue to support the community of independent designers and brands not only through buying but also through the act of engaging through social media, or word of mouth. I also hope it becomes the norm for consumers to want to know more about who, where and how something is made.
Robin Reetz - Fashion Editor
I’m an editor at Barneys New York, focusing on e-commerce and all-things-digital. I have an interest and love for independent and ethical fashion brands and find myself doing a lot of market research in that space even when I don’t need to. There’s a ton of talent out there right now, and I find it really interesting. Otherwise, I live in Brooklyn with my husband, and my dog, Lola – we’re crazy obsessed with her.
So much of the fashion industry is faceless, and that lack of a personal experience or connection often leads consumers to make unethical choices. If you don’t know who you’re hurting, it’s much easier to hurt them. Personally, I find it interesting to learn about the women, men, and teams behind independent brands. Also, I think it’s just the coolest thing in the world to know you’re supporting an actual person and their family when you buy a product from them - not to mention making choices that benefit the environment and your local economy. What’s better than that?
This is an interesting time in fashion. The contemporary space has been flooded with talent from brands and retailers, everything is changing constantly with what we think of regarding traditional retail and the role technology plays in that, and this is all taking place at the same time as the shake-up happening politically and societally regarding female empowerment and equality. Ultimately it’s a slow burn, but the old rules are on their way out. It’s such an exciting time in retail, technology, design, for brand development, and for women.
The current state of retail is in flux, and those who are doing really interesting things understand this now and were early adopters of these new rules when the changes started being made a few years ago.
I’d like to see more brands listening to their customers and anticipating their needs rather than responding to their habits. Another large part of this new retail experience deals with emotion. Consumers want emotion and connection when they make a purchase, and I think that’s one of the reasons the independent market is now doing so well. Fast fashion is thriving, but we’re seeing customers who want to buy items that line up with their beliefs. Coclico is such a great example of this because of their ethical and sustainable values and the way they celebrate real women.
Future of Fashion
I have a wishlist of hopes for the future of fashion and sustainable shopping, so let’s start here:
- That this powerful wave of ingenuity we see right now continues to grow and thrive.
- That brands and retailers continue to innovate in design and approach.
- That retailers and brands of all sizes and influences wholly embrace technology (it’s not going anywhere).
- That the fashion industry becomes more inclusive on the page, in the stores, and behind the scenes. End of story.
- Brands and retailers start to listen to what consumers want and stop telling them what they need to buy.
- That sustainability becomes mass and expected rather than a one-off idea that is used for marketing purposes. We can’t expect fast fashion to go away, but we can expect something better from the industry.
Photos by Bridget Badore for Coclico