Modern. Southern. Style. These three words epitomize the revival and more recent branding that has occurred at Belk department stores in the past two years. Next year will be the 125th year that Belk, Inc. has been in business, and the company has wisely been building momentum with their customers. In 2010, Belk decided to update their entire image from logo to signage, advertising campaigns to tagline. One of the most popular additions to Belk has been Fashion Director Arlene Goldstein, who has assisted Belk on maintaining a strong online and social media presence. Whitney W. Jones was able to interview Arlene Goldstein before she left for Mercedes-Benz New York Fashion Week in early September, please enjoy the interview below:
WWJ: How did you, or your team, select the winners of the Southern Designer Showcase?
Arlene Goldstein: The designers went through several rounds of competitions presenting their collections to the judges at the Belk corporate headquarters in Charlotte. We chose collections that we thought would enhance our current assortments and reflect modern southern style.
WWJ: What inspired your team to do this competition, highlighting regional designers?
Arlene Goldstein: The competition was conceived as a way to celebrate Belk’s 125th anniversary, which will kick-off March 2013, while promoting design talent from the south. To be considered, contestants had to have a strong connection to the Belk footprint-one of the 16 states where we have stores.
WWJ: How big is the team that goes to NYC for the buying season of merchandising apparel and soft goods?
Arlene Goldstein: 60 buyers, that includes all families of business. [Not just the fashion department.]
WWJ: While now you are a seasoned pro with over 25 years in the fashion industry, did you find it challenging to become an executive?
Arlene Goldstein: Every day at my job is exciting and unique. It is those challenges that make this industry so appealing, along with the diversity of personalities, and the opportunities to be innovative.
WWJ: Some women say that they have a power color. What is your power color, Arlene, and what does it say about you?
Arlene Goldstein: Black is definitely the core of my wardrobe. I use it as the building block and then add pops of color, exciting jewelry and other interesting accessories.
WWJ: What is the item you find yourself reaching for the most when selecting an outfit?
Arlene Goldstein: I think the classic pencil skirt and the little black dress (sheath) continue to be the items that I reach for most often when pulling an outfit together.
WWJ: What accessory takes an outfit from day to night the easiest?
Arlene Goldstein: The statement necklace can easily add the glitz and glamour to take you from day to dinner.
WWJ: What is the single most important fashion item for fall 2012?
Arlene Goldstein: For Fall 2012 we are seeing the return of the jacket. It will be an important staple that can be worn in more modern ways. i.e. a fitted blazer over a cocktail dress or with a pleated skirt and a pair of ankle boots.
WWJ: One of the biggest trends this season is navy and black, worn together. Belk is a Southern-based brand, so you can understand when I say that I have had people balk at wearing these two colors together (such a traditional no no!). The same with whites and off-whites – many are unsure of wearing it after Labor Day still… How would you suggest bringing these looks into the modern Southern woman’s wardrobe?
Arlene Goldstein: Black and navy worn together is a very chic combination, as is white and off white. Either combo, is perfectly suitable after Labor day, and any woman who is comfortable wearing these unpredictable combinations should just do it.
WWJ: Continuing on with fall fashion: burgundy/oxblood are so big this season, do you see this color showing up in more evening clothes or can it be worn easily with day wear?
Arlene Goldstein: I have no doubts that burgundy will go easily from day to dinner and from workplace to weekend.
WWJ: How would you suggest women rock the hunter-chic look this season without overheating in their offices? It seems as though many designers had models weighed down in layers of knits for some runway shows, how did this look morph into something consumer-friendly?
Arlene Goldstein: From Minneapolis to Miami and anywhere in between, regardless the temperature nobody wants to wear anything that is extremely bulky or heavy. Fortunately the newest textile technology is extraordinary and able to provide so many fabrications that are extremely lightweight and easy to wear. Layering is key to the Town and Country chic that is so important to Belk this season. I look forward to wearing a beautiful silk blouse with a fur vest and a great pair of tweed trousers to work. If the office gets warm, I can certainly peel off the vest and still feel chic and comfortable. Layer, layer, layer!
WWJ: What other items are on your lust list this season?
Arlene Goldstein: I am planning to add a beautiful pair of suede ankle boots to my fall wardrobe. In addition, I hope to zero-in on two or three completer pieces in an array in those vivid jewel tones that are so important for the season.
Do you think some of these answers from Belk’s Fashion Director, Arlene Goldstein, will inspire your fall wardrobe? I know I certainly was happy to hear about different ways to style looks for this season! I look forward to hearing from you all, whether through the Facebook page, Twitter, or by email, on how you plan on styling your outfits for Fall 2012.