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Donna Ida Thornton Headshot

Retail Speak - How to Talk Fashion

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When I first started in fashion retail I carried Denis Thatcher with me everywhere I went. His famous line was in my head: "better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than open it and remove all doubt". So when I first started going to buying appointments they went something like this:

Seller: 'This style drops nice and early in June'.
Me: WTF?? 'Great'.

What I really wanted to say was: 'what do you mean it drops? Who's dropping it? Why is June important? Why is June early? What season are we in? What am I looking at??

At the same appointment the sales agent told me that they were nervous about showing me the collection because I was looking at the second season for the brand I was buying into, when I hadn't even received the first collection (or 'drop' which turned out to mean delivery - of COURSE!!) yet. Why did this matter?? I just nodded thoughtfully. What they were trying to tell me was that I could have bought £5,000 worth of jeans that would be stuck to the shelves for the next six months OR, I could have bought £5,000 worth of jeans that I would be wanting to re-order on within 2 weeks. Oh the joy of the naivety! At that stage of the game I was fast becoming the London Jean Queen, but the reality was I still couldn't find my tightly denim clad arse with both hands.

As time went on I worked out what I was doing, and was all over sell-throughs, margins, back-stock, stock-holding, RA (returns authorisation), RTS (return to supplier), AW/SS (pretty obvious one - Autumn/Winter and Spring/Summer), delivery window (hello! never accept something outside that cheeky little window and never accept an order confirmation without one stated), trading calendar, trading meetings, sales reports, week's cover, season launch - my life is now run by the days, weeks and months of the fashion calendar. How much stock we have, how long we have to sell it, is it raining? Is it snowing? Is it sunny? Is it school half term? Is it the London Marathon?? Has someone sneezed? All things that can account for a good or bad day, and will all add up to the plus or negative against your season target.

Along with the language of retail, established long before I wriggled up to the podium, is the language of Donna Ida. It's the way the team and I speak to each other and it keeps me smiling (at my own humour, not that modest I know but I've always done it). Highlights are:

Donna Ida Term: Any joy?
Retail Term: What are your sales figures.

Donna Ida Term: Spreadsheet says.
Retail Term: I'm looking at your stock holding and if you don't re-order now you won't have any jeans to sell in four weeks.

Donna Ida Term: This Little Guy/This Lovely Chap
Retail Term: This is a key piece for the season.

Donna Ida Term: That's not ideal.
Retail Term: You've bought a dog and have had to mark it down so heavily you've lost all your margin on your best seller and are largely in the poo.

Donna Ida Term: This is our time to shine.
Retail Term: We are in the key selling weeks.

Donna Ida Term: We are armed and dangerous.
Retail Term: We have good stock levels of all our key styles and sizes.

Donna Ida Term: Check out this crazy guy.
Retail Term: I hope you didn't buy too heavily into that, it's a very specific (i.e. unusual taste) customer.

Donna Ida Term: This is the calm before the storm.
Retail Term: We're experiencing the normal peaks and troughs of the season.

Donna Ida Term: That's a nipple hardener.
Retail Term: I've had an immediate reaction to that and am buying heavily into it.

Donna Ida Term: Is the designer blind?
Retail Term: That would be difficult to retail.

Before going into fashion retail I hope you've given this the once-over, if you have any further questions (and don't worry, I've already thought of all the really dumb ones) email me at press@donnaida.com.