Seeing Mr. Martens (the esteemed John Martens) at Neiman Marcus in Beverly Hills always made me feel right. He exuded so much grace, ease, sophistication. I grew up shopping with my mom, the Last of the Retail Jews, at Neiman Marcus in Beverly Hills. It was more than shopping...it's where I learned how to be a gentleman. Having lunch with my grandmother, manners were formed. Talking tailored clothing with the gents, style became important. It wasn't about clothes or fancy shit. It was about attitude, kindness, and class. Now, like many, I am a distant cousin. I am a Marcus. No, I didn't get any discounts or special treatment but it felt like a marvelous little secret...that some how, some way, I was related to someone and something so great.
Watching Neiman's constrict and right-size is heart breaking to me. Today, watching those dedicated pros at NM try to deliver the highest of high standards under financial duress is a very tall order. I feel for those ladies and gents as they navigate into a time where they will need to make many changes. It's not news and it's been some time coming but retail, all brick and mortar retail, is dying or changing. I wanted NM to buck the trend and not just survive but thrive. I wanted my young son to experience, to feel the NM culture and get a taste of better times. I am fearful that he won't get this experience that helped shape me into a man and kick start my career in fashion.
I am not an expert corporate staffer in this world anymore. I am an expert on finding the next chapter for dedicated retail pros and fashion pros but it requires a hard reset as the jobs just aren't there anymore. The new world for retailers and fashion pros is robust but the hard part is figuring out what will feel like full engagement without a hard kick in the wallet. A successful transition is possible, probable and beyond fulfilling...you just got to see the writing on the wall and decide to make it happen.