TECHNICALLY SPEAKING: Tech-driven as San Francisco shoppers are, Haus Alkire has mapped out a personalized approach to cracking the market.
With help from W Hotels and the Council of Fashion Designers of America, the New York-made label’s founders Julie and Jason Alkire are planning a four-day stay in April that will include a pop-up at the W Hotel and a private dinner hosted by a Google executive. The company doesn’t have any California accounts, but a number of residents do frequent its TriBeCa store. “They said women are definitely experimenting and expanding their wardrobes,” Julie Alkire said. “The idea is to develop the business and figure out a way to have a presence there all year round. We want to engage with customers and obviously it would be great to have a partner by the time we leave.”
The husband-and-wife team talked about their plans during Feb. 16’s CFDA Fashion Incubator Market Day. The boutique Hero that a former Vogue editor Emily Holt started is one of the retailers they hope to touch base with. One of their mentors, Karen Harvey, will help them to make connections. “If you have 20 women who come and really support the brand, it can be a very successful evening. We’ve found that you don’t need 200, you just need 20 of the right people,” Julie Alkire said.
Their targeted customers in the San Francisco Bay Area also lead their industry internationally in terms of average tech salaries — $134,000, according to Hired’s 2016 Global State of Tech Salaries survey. It topped the list compared to 15 other markets and also saw the greatest increase — a 3.3 percent gain compared to the 2015 survey.
Focusing on specific markets like Houston and Dallas has helped the company develop footholds (not to mention a yearlong exclusive deal with Forty Five Ten.) Haus Alkire also teams with personal shoppers who will line up temporary spaces. “They bring six or seven of their clients over in a day and these are people who invest in wardrobes. It’s worth spending a few days there. We go to Houston two or three times a year,” Julie Alkire said.
With an extensive collection made with many seasonless fabrics, Haus Alkire is broad based enough to make mini collections, Jason Alkire said. It’s big on trunk shows and hosting private events in clients’ homes, he said.
AMC and Sundance executives started buying the label early on in its TriBeCa store since they were spending a lot of time in New York. One woman hosted a party for 15 of her friends and “it kind of blossomed from there,” Alkire said. “It’s very old-school — a 1950s, Sixties, Seventies sort of approach — meet your clients, sit down with them, have a glass of wine, talk about design and how it can change them and be attainable for them.”
Having regrouped a few years ago to have more of a hands-on approach, the Alkires had disliked the disconnectedness that accompanied wider distribution. “We still want to grow but more thoughtful. If we’re going to be involved, we want to be somewhat near the ground level,” Julie Alkire said.
Her husband added, “You’ve got to have contact with the people who are buying it and actually wearing it.”