Top Department Stores Fashion Directors Talk Predictions for 2017, Designers to Know and More

Today’s top department store directors are masters at multitasking. They’re always on the go, shopping the market, scouting new designers and staying up to speed on the latest trends.

Here, Nordstrom’s Olivia Kim, Barneys’ Marina Larroudé, Bergdorf Goodman’s Bruce Pask and Bloomingdale’s Justin Berkowitz share a glimpse into their busy working days, the big projects they’re tackling and the people who inspire them.

Bruce Pask, men’s fashion director, Bergdorf Goodman

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Bergdorf Goodman’s Bruce Pask
CREDIT: Illustrated by Joanna Neborsky

The first thing I do when I get into the office:
“Most days for me start at the store. Before I head to my office around the corner, I walk the floors, usually tweaking a few looks on mannequins along the way [and] checking out new shipments being put out. I take great pride in the appearance of the store, and it’s the best way to set the tone for my day.”

My typical work look:
“My work uniform is a balance of tailoring and casual clothing. I wear a lot of knits with suits, or denim shirts with sport jackets and a tie, more often than not. I usually wear Common Projects sneakers in our own Goodman’s Gray, which is a dark charcoal color that I find goes with almost everything.”

My top three sources for men’s fashion news and inspiration:
The Business of Fashion, WWD and The New York Times.”

Where I’m headed on my next business trip:
“We just returned from the European menswear shows and markets in London, Florence, Milan and Paris, so I am happy to stay in town for a bit.”

The new project I’m most excited about:
“Our most recent unveiling is our new NikeLab shop, which is fantastic.”

My favorite New York spot for a business lunch:
“It’s rare for me to take the time for a proper lunch, but when I do, I am lucky to have the best spot just a block away inside our women’s store: BG Restaurant. The Gotham Salad, please.”

The most interesting shoe designer I’ve discovered recently:
“I’m as interested in rediscovering as I am in scouting new talent. I love the finely crafted Italian shoes of Santoni and Bontoni, which are certainly not new [labels] but deserving of mention. I love Carvil’s elegant evening shoes, and Virgil Abloh’s Off-White collaboration with Dr. Martens looks terrific. Also, Fracap’s alpine hiking boots are going to be great for fall.

My most memorable moment at Bergdorf Goodman so far:
“I am lucky enough to say that the memorable moments here are plentiful. We are always working on exciting projects and redefining what the luxury menswear shopping experience can be. But maybe my most proud day was the day I started working here.”

The people on my team who most inspire me:
“Our president, Joshua Schulman, is an incredibly expansive thinker who I admire greatly. Linda Fargo, our SVP of fashion and store presentation director, has one of the most creative minds I’ve encountered. And Melissa Lowenkron and Kenneth Gaston, GMM and associate GMM, respectively, are both very inspiring partners who I consider myself fortunate to work closely with.”

 

Olivia Kim, VP of creative projects, Nordstrom

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Nordstrom’s Olivia Kim
CREDIT: Illustrated by Joanna Neborsky

The first thing I do when I get into the office:
“I check in on everyone — just to see how they’re all doing. I travel so much that when I’m in the office, I like to have face time with my team, and mornings are good because people are settling in, they’re drinking their coffee. I like to ask everybody how their night was, how their morning is going — like, be a normal human.”

My typical work look:
“Casual, comfortable. I’m always in sneakers. I run around too much not to be.”

On my desk right now:
“Snacks, walnuts, Hi-Chew, a half-eaten granola bar, glasses that I’m supposed to be wearing but never do, Polaroid photos, Aquaphor and a Sharpie.”

Where I’m headed on my next business trip:
“To Paris to meet with designers and brands for our concept shops.”

The new project I’m most excited about:
“KPop-In@Nordstrom, a three-part shop series highlighting some of the best brands coming out of Korea. We kicked off with a Gentle Monster [eyewear] shop, and K-Beauty launched on Feb. 10. After that is a fashion [pop-up], which I’m excited about.”

The most surprising part of my job:
“How much I love it.”

The person who most inspires me:
“Gloria Steinem. She’s such an inspiring leader for all types of causes. She’s so articulate about how incredibly beautiful and powerful women are.”

The most interesting emerging designer I’ve discovered recently:
“Dilara Findikoglu. I originally found her on Instagram, and I’m so excited about her. As a young woman, she’s confident, she’s powerful and she knows who she is. She knows what she wants to say, and she’s using her craft as a further extension of her message.”

The three traits that make me good at my job:
“I’m curious, I ask a lot of questions, and I don’t take myself too seriously.”

My prediction for the biggest retail trend of 2017:
“I feel like 2017 is going to be the year for redefining and figuring out your basics and the core of what is important. I love what Miuccia Prada said about her menswear show — that everything is such ‘a big deal’ now and that [we need to find] the antidote to that. Not everything has to be so big. It could just be simple, beautiful and well-made.”

Marina Larroudé, fashion director, Barneys New York

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Barneys New York’s Marina Larroudé
CREDIT: Illustrated by Joanna Neborsky

The first thing I do when I get into the office:
“Before leaving my house, I go through my emails and respond to anything urgent. When I get to the office, I go through additional pending emails and respond, and then I meet with our fashion office team and check the status of ongoing projects. Once I know what the priorities are, I start my day from there.”

Number of meetings I sit in on during a typical day:
“Typically, five to seven. But during Fashion Week, that changes completely. Because my role is very dynamic, I oversee many different projects simultaneously. A typical day could consist of overseeing a private-label fitting, developing the next collection, meeting with a new designer or brand, walking through the store to check on visuals and attending a digital editorial meeting to review the publishing lineup for TheWindow.Barneys.com. There is never a dull moment, which I love.”

My top three sites for fashion news and inspiration:
“I check Vogue.com, Instagram and WWD.com multiple times a day to make sure I’m up to the minute on everything.”

Where I’m headed on my next business trip:
“I’ll be in Milan and Paris for the pre-fall collections. This is will be my first trip since starting my job at Barneys.”

What keeps me excited about working in fashion:
“The seasons. Every three to six months, everything changes, so you can start fresh all over again. Once you are tired of a trend, a new one starts taking shape. There is always a sense of new discoveries.”

The person in my office who is the best sounding board:
“Jennifer Sunwoo, [EVP and GMM for women’s], is the first person I go to after I see a new collection to get her opinion and discuss sales potential. We work very closely on a daily basis, and the private-label collection is something we are constantly discussing. Jennifer has so much experience and knowledge in retail — I have a lot to learn from her.”

The last designer I met with:
“Paul Andrew. He is incredibly talented, and I admire what he does with his own line. I look forward to seeing what he does at Ferragamo.”

The new project I’m most excited about:
“The Barneys New York private-label collection. Developing a ready-to-wear and accessories line from beginning to end has always been one of my goals.”

My prediction for the biggest shoe trend of 2017:
“Slip-ons and mules. I don’t see them going away anytime soon. I love the various iterations from The Row, Gianvito Rossi and our new brand, Mari Giudicelli. The style is a harmonious balance of chicness and comfort, which is a big factor driving its popularity.”

 

Justin Berkowitz, men’s fashion director, Bloomingdale’s

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Bloomingdale’s Justin Berkowitz
CREDIT: Illustrated by Joanna Neborsky

The first thing I do when I get into the office:
“I’m actually rarely in the office in the morning. I can usually be found in the market, working with our buyers and showrooms. When I do eventually get to my desk, the first thing I do is compile my to-do list on a notepad.”

What’s on my desk right now:
“My inspiration board. I tend to take a lot of screenshots of things I see on Instagram, and they get printed and tacked up. I essentially have a checkerboard wall of inspiration images.”

My typical work look:
“A crewneck cashmere sweater, loose-fit wool trousers and Converse CT70s.”

My favorite New York spot for a business lunch:
“I’m more of a breakfast guy. I typically go to Cafe Cluny, which is around the corner from my apartment.”

The person in the industry who most inspires me the most:
“Mrs. Prada. I am always inspired by her innovation in design and her deep commitment to the arts.”

My prediction for the biggest shoe trend of 2017:
“I don’t think the sneaker is going anywhere.”

My top three sources for men’s fashion news and inspiration:
“I read so many, but my first hits are inevitably The Business of Fashion, The New York Times and GQ Style.”

My most memorable moment at Bloomingdale’s so far:
“The launch party for our collaboration with Odell Beckham Jr. in the fall [of 2016] is certainly up there on my list.”

The one mobile app I can’t live without:
“The Infatuation. I tend to eat at a lot of the same restaurants in my neighborhood, so anytime I have to branch out, it’s the first place I look.”

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