Is shopping always fun? Not to people who have neither the time nor the inclination for it, plus the perennially stressful traffic.
Psychographics from online shopping site Zalora reveal that only 7 percent of the public is fashion-savvy, says seasoned retailer Sheree Roxas-Chua Gotuaco. “The rest need help. They don’t feel as confident putting an outfit together. Maybe casual clothes for a weekend are fine, but what do you wear if an occasion called for business casual, or if it was a ribbon-cutting event?”
Gotuaco’s solution is Stylist in Pocket (SiP), a service in which a stylist picks out clothes based on size and style information you provide on its website (www.stylistinpocket.com).
The idea has picked up so well that Facebook in Singapore chose SiP and 40 other direct clients among a few hundred thousands from the Philippines to receive free technical support for the third and fourth quarters of the year from the popular social media platform.
“We were identified as part of a growth pod that showed potential,” Gotuaco explains. “We’re very, very grateful—surprised that they even found us because we’ve been under the radar for so long.”
Feedback on its Facebook page has been mostly positive and encouraging.
“I had a fantastic experience with Stylist in Pocket,” Rachel Velasquez posted. “Thank you, (stylists) Krish and Crissy, for your honest and wonderful service! I never thought I could wear skirts, but now I can!”
There are two ways to take advantage of the service. You can either purchase clothes from a “Fitting Room”—that is, apparel picked and presented online by a stylist—and have the items delivered to you for free, or schedule a Home Visit and welcome a team of stylists bearing a rack of clothes, shoes, a full-length mirror and a complimentary glass of iced tea for you.
Fashion advice—friendly, respectful, never imposing—is dispensed by the assigned stylist as you try on the outfits in the comfort and privacy of your home.
SiP works with over 30 brands, from international labels (Topshop, Miss Selfridge, Warehouse, Arrow, G2000, New Balance) and homegrown retailers (Gingersnaps and Gotuaco’s own labels Ensembles, Freeway and Solo), to online and specialty brands.
Payments could be in cash, through credit card or bank deposit, but there is no obligation to buy, and the home-styling service (offered to clients in Greater Metro Manila and Cebu) is free of charge.
“For the longest time here, styling was limited to the famous and well-to-do,” explains Gotuaco. “We want to make it available to everyone.”
Mostly female clientele
Apparently, the demand for styling is so great, Home Visits stretch to Saturdays and Sundays to accommodate people tied up in the office all week. Since launching its website in August 2016 and its Facebook page a year earlier, SiP has styled a mostly female clientele, from CEOs and doctors to entrepreneurs, homemakers, and even those who usually have stylists in their employ—high-ranking politicians, media personalities and well-known celebrities.
“SiP is a blessing for a lazy shopper like me,” said veteran TV, film and stage actress Cherie Gil. “I find it tedious to go through store after store. At home, I’m comfortable to fit and there’s no obligation to buy.
From my size to my style, the stylists hit the nail on the head.”
Beyond career women and the style-challenged, SiP has penetrated markets Gotuaco wasn’t expecting to cater to: plus-size clients, pregnant women and senior citizens with limited mobility, to name a few.
Even the disadvantaged benefit from SiP: in its Donate and Declutter program, clients’ old and unused garments are sent to charitable causes. SiP has donated clothes to flood victims and families in war-torn Marawi.
SiP’s batting average in its Home Visits is “close to a hundred percent,” Gotuaco says. “We served a family in Subic and they bought over 50 items of clothing. We also had a client who bought 40 pieces.”
Even a finicky dresser like myself didn’t finish a Home Visit empty-handed. After dutifully trying on several tops that stylist AJ picked to match my fashion aesthetic (basic, minimalist, utilitarian, sporty), I only needed minutes to decide what I really wanted: two cool-looking New Balance windbreakers in white with silver trim. I love it, I said giddily as I zipped up the hooded jacket before an approving AJ.
“It’s very ‘me.’”
That’s when SiP knows its job is done. Style may be subjective, but when apparel makes you look and feel better, you’re on the right track.
“Whatever gives you confidence,” Gotuaco says. “Because no matter what you’re wearing, confidence makes you look more attractive.”
Sign up at www.stylistinpocket.com, use the promo code INQUIRER500, and get a P500 gift certificate on any purchase worth at least P2,000.
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