Under the direction of Kent Gushner, Boyds Philadelphia has nearly completed its $10 million renovation that includes a complete makeover of its first floor and mezzanine, where the menswear specialty store has completely turned its focus to women.
The fixtures are new. The accessories — we are talking the addition of Dior shoes and handbags — gleam. And the merch, a high-end mix of sporty Alexander Wang and glittery Alexander McQueen comprises a women's clothing collection the likes of which Philadelphia hasn't really seen before.
All of this is thanks to Boyds secret weapon, former Bergdorf Goodman accessories buyer Deborah Soss, who came aboard last year as the primary women's buyer, consultant, and events planner. The luxury store's fall 2018 collection is the first to benefit from Soss' super-connected touch.
We caught up with Soss, who splits her time between the Big Apple and Philadelphia, after New York Fashion Week to chat about fall trends (Will this 1980s moment ever end?), how she buys for sophisticated Philadelphia women, and what additional couture designers she plans to bring to Boyds — just in time for Academy Ball shopping.
What are you loving this fall?
Animal prints. I love the plaids, especially those [infused] with florals — think Altuzarra. I love textures. We are seeing lots of velvet. Black, as in black dresses. The other trend that we didn't pick up so much of was athleisure. We did do sneakers, though. The '80s are going to be big this fall.
You mean as in the racing stripe? I’m seeing it everywhere.
Gucci started it. We've seen it for a few seasons now. It's very modern, like in a Goyard bag. But I suspect this is the last season. It's on it's way out now.
Speaking of on its way out, texture has been trending for many seasons now and it’s still going strong. How is 2018 texture different from that of a few years ago?
When I think about texture this year, I think mostly of velvet. It's in evening dresses and in these fabulous — you must learn about them — Hayward handbags. Suede is big. And fringe. Prada brought that back a few years ago, too. But we should expect to see this in the spring.
Let’s talk about the standouts on your roster.
Oh, so many: Altuzarra, Chloe, Adam Lippes, Marchesa, Louis Vuitton, Regina Pyo, Carolina Herrera, The Danes. We brought in Zac Posen, Jenny Packham, Oscar de la Renta …
That’s an impressive lineup. How do you buy them for Philadelphians compared to how you bought in New York?
I think the Boyds customer wants to dress in modern, not contemporary, but modern pieces. She wants to look relevant but not classic. Classic is not right. No. She's timeless. That's right, timeless… [The Philadelphia woman is] mellower. For example, in New York, she'll wear a black dress but she'll add a groovy choker, a leather jacket, some tiger print, some leopard. Here, she will do that same black dress in a beautiful pair of Manolo Blahnik shoes. She's just more refined.
Your favorite designer?
Valentino. We are working on bringing the brand here. It would resonate well. It's that bohemian elegance. That evening elegance. You are gorgeous women, no matter who you are, in Valentino. There is also something about Dior… Maria Grazia [Chiuri]. She was once at Valentino, but the things she's doing at Dior. We carry Dior footwear and jewelry, but we hope to bring ready-to-wear sooner rather than later.