Appeared In
Special Issue
WWD Milestones issue 09/30/2013

With her takes on the emerging trends in fashion and style, Pixie Hopkin has always been a little out there.

This story first appeared in the September 30, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

In the late Sixties, when Tom Jones was baring his hairy chest on stage, Mexican men who generally lacked that look felt envious. So Hopkin supplemented her eyelash and wig business with men’s hair pieces, fake sideburns, moustaches — even false chest hair pieces.

“For those, you would use the same glue to keep your head piece on,” she said.

She started selling her hair products to El Palacio de Hierro in 1969, which led to fashion jobs inside the company. Today, she serves as commercial sub-director of special events, but she’s really regarded as the in-house fashion adviser.

She coaches the sales staff with her vast product knowledge, advises buyers, attends shows and visits showrooms, combs cities and taps consultants to discover what’s hot or on the horizon. She presses for change on the selling floors, and lately, she’s advocating pet fashion, which the store doesn’t carry. “It’s something we are missing out on,” though finding space for pooch products would be an issue, she acknowledged.

Today, Hopkin is wearing an Emporio Armani urban athletic outfit, not simply because she likes the look. It’s also because it represents an emerging trend she believes in — athletic clothes reimagined and redesigned for city life. “They’re very comfortable, mainly synthetic, with a lot of Japanese technology. I really think change is coming, from natural fibers to high-tech and recycled.”

Change is what she’s about. She looks forward to Agent Provocateur coming to El Palacio next season and sees it as “a great advance,” if not daring addition, to the selling floor.

Some Mexicans might view it as “a sex shop,” depending on how far El Palacio goes with merchandising the brand, she said. There are, after all, whips and paddles in the product line, and women in Mexico often hesitate to exude too much sexuality. “They are wearing dresses with lower backs, though in any society the conservatives are still around,” Hopkin said.

In the contemporary space, which El Palacio needs to grow, Hopkin sees a dilemma: “Younger people don’t have the resources to buy a lot of the product.” Otherwise, several contemporary brands would be welcome additions to the store, like Rebecca Taylor. The store’s private Wild & Alive brand fills some of that need with biker jackets, miniskirts, lots of shine and color and good prices, as Hopkin noted, though she’d like to see more edge in the Wild & Alive collection. “I don’t think it’s quite wild enough, but it’s definitely alive. We do have to proceed carefully.”

Ironically, kids, Hopkin said, is among the store’s most forward-thinking areas.

“The buyer is not afraid,” she observed, describing all the attitude in the fashion, like girls wearing tutus with cardigans and boots, or boys in boots with laces untied and T-shirts that say “It wasn’t me!”

For adults, light puffer jackets, easy dresses, Michael Kors bags, anything with the Tory Burch logo, BCBG Max Azria and the better-price Calvin Klein women’s line are among the strongest sellers. And she’s 100 percent behind El Palacio’s drive to sell more luxury.

“Once you put on a luxurious jacket or a Cartier watch, you feel the difference,” she said. “There is no going home.”